San Diego Opera joins Fort Worth Opera in the co-commission of ‘The Last Dream of Frida and Diego’Editorial, Entertainment News, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Sunday, August 6th, 2017
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Fort Worth Opera and San Diego Opera will formally announce the 2020 world premiere of The Last Dream of Frida & Diego in Mexico City on Aug. 24, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and Latin Grammy winner, pianist, and classical composer Gabriela Lena Frank. A co-commission with Fort Worth Opera, San Diego Opera, the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, and DePauw University, The Last Dream of Frida and Diego will be formally introduced to the world Aug. 24 at Mexico City’s opulent concert hall and cultural arts center, Palacio de Bellas Artes.
This bilingual press conference will be held within Palacio’s intimate Manuel M. Ponce Hall, and feature an exclusive reading from the opera’s libretto by Nilo Cruz, along with a piano performance by Gabriela Lena Frank. The award-winning, composer-librettist team will play audio samples from their nine works together and discuss the evolution of their decade-long creative partnership, culminating in this celebratory new opera. Following the conclusion of the presentation, there will be a brief Q&A session for local press and attendees.
“San Diego Opera is proud to join our colleagues at Fort Worth Opera, the University of Texas, and DePauw University in the commission of The Last Dream of Frida and Diego. Creating and producing new, innovative works of opera helps us deepen connections with the diverse community of San Diego. In looking for the right subject matter, the lives of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera made perfect sense to us – their extensive bodies of work influence creative artists here in our community, on both sides of the border,” said David Bennett, General Director of San Diego Opera. “With the inspired vision of Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz, I know the result will be a new opera that will engage and entertain audiences.”
FWOpera’s General Director Tuomas Hiltunen said, “I am thrilled and honored to be joining the Fort Worth Opera in this exciting new era, as we collaborate with San Diego Opera, the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin, and DePauw University to co-commission The Last Dream of Frida and Diego. Kahlo and Rivera greatly influenced American art and visual artists, muralists, graphic designers, and sculptors. Their idiosyncratic style and commitment to social equality continue to inspire artists and art enthusiasts around the globe. This compelling new work, featuring Nilo Cruz’s haunting libretto set to music by one of the most innovative composers working today, Gabriela Lena Frank, perfectly embodies FWOpera’s commitment to community-driven storytelling and programming. We look forward to presenting the world premiere in 2020.”
Set in 1957, the opera opens in a cemetery, as Mexico celebrates the annual festival of El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The great muralist Diego Rivera walks among the worshipers as they prepare for the return of the spirits to the world, singing with joy and anticipation. Surrounded by sugar-coated skulls, candles, and fragrant marigold flowers, he longs to see his deceased lover Frida Kahlo once again before he passes on. In the afterlife, Catrina, the keeper of the souls, approaches Frida, and explains that Diego desperately needs his beloved angel as the seed of death quickly sprouts within him. Moved by the desires of the departed souls she encounters around her, Frida reluctantly agrees to join him in the world above, with the knowledge that the dead can never touch the living. For only twenty-four hours, Frida and Diego will relive their tumultuous love through their paintings, embracing the passion they shared and the pain they inflicted upon one other.
“We’re delighted to be part of this collaboration to bring the lives of artistic icons Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to life onstage through music,” said Doug Dempster, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. “Working on this production will provide a unique and immersive learning experience for our students, and we’re excited about the opportunities to engage and reach new audiences.”
Composer Gabriela Lena Frank said, “Frida and Diego were Mexicans, but they were also global citizens. For me as an artist, I find great inspiration in how they used the specific colors and sounds of their culture to express what is universal. You don’t have to be Mexican to be moved by their paintings nor their life stories. In other words, you can relate to them, and you can identify with them. I feel that Frida and Diego remind us of our humanity — so important as we currently navigate these early decades of the 21st century feeling so very politically and socially divided. Their art remains as relevant as ever.”
Librettist Nilo Cruz said, “Through her work, Frida gives us permission to find our own personal relationship to life as well as to make sense of life after trauma. Painting helped her to make sense of the universe. For Diego, painting has to do with humanist philosophical reflection, a way of documenting history and social injustice. They both rescue their roots, their Mexican identity from oblivion. As the Aztecs took out human hearts and offered them to the gods, they offer us their hearts through their art, through the lives they lead as witnesses of life in the universe.”
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