Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo will be the protagonists of an upcoming opera which has been tentatively called “The Last Dream of Frida and Diego”, expected to premiere in 2020.
The production will be a co-commission between the Fort Worth Opera company, the San Diego Opera, the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin and DePauw University; with music composed by Latin Grammy winner Gabriela Lena Frank, and written by Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz.
The creative team traveled to Mexico to visit key locations in Mexico City, such as the Templo Mayor, and to talk a bit about the progress of their work, which proposes a final dialogue between Frida and Diego Rivera.
During a press conference at the Manuel M. Ponce Room of the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico, the composer explained that the world premiere will be in Texas, but they hope that, in time, a Mexican company becomes interested in the opera.
For his part, Nilo Cruz claimed the cast and the rest of the crew haven't been decided yet, but they want to cast, at least, artists with Mexican – or Latin American – descent.
“My music is very dramatic and the opera proposes a very intimate encounter between Diego and Frida. To me, music is like Mozart with lyrics. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I want to create an opera that cannot be easily labeled,” said Frank. It still unknown whether the production will have an orchestra or an ensemble.
The opera is set in Mexico City during 1957, during the celebration of the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Diego Rivera is walking on a cemetery, yearning to reunite with his deceased Frida. The Catrina lets the painter know the muralist is looking for her and, reluctantly, Frida agrees to meet Diego and lead him towards the world of the dead.
“In 24 hours, Frida and Diego will relive their tumultuous relationship through their paintings, reminding the love, passion and even the pain that once joined them,” according to the press release.
When discussing the vision of Mexico and the stereotypes related to the artists, the Day of the Dead, the Mictlán – the underworld in Aztec mythology – and characters such as La Malinche, the playwright claims he sought similarities between the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the story of Diego and Frida, and the Mictlán.
“I've used a folkloric world full of colors that I think it's beautiful, yet maybe to the Mexican audience, it will feel like something closer. I think it's important to search the beauty of this world,” he said.
Actors Evangelina Sosa, Anna Silvetti, Adriaán Alarcón and Javier Díaz Dueñas offered their rendition of a script which is still in progress, just like the music.