Fidel está Muerto — Long Live Opera

Last night Cuban state television announced Fidel Castro passed away at the age of 90. Not a surprise, really. But the fact of it startles.

Moments later, in ironic timing, I received an email from Havana. The composer of Cubanacan, Roberto Valera, wrote to me. But not about Fidel’s death.

Instead, Valera told me had met with Placido Domingo earlier on Friday. Valera gave him a DVD with the film of our 2015 Havana performance. Domingo is in Havana for a concert this coming Sunday.

As some of you may know Domingo was helpful with the opera during an early stage of its development, having hosted two workshops at the Los Angeles Opera, where he is General Director. He and I had useful, inspiring and pleasant discussions as he heard the work-in-progress and offered suggestions.

At one point Domingo mused about the idea of playing Fidel Castro on-stage — performing a monologue which had been recommended to him.

I don’t know how these confluence of events might develop. I will, in the coming days, do my part to see if there are opportunities and openings to get the opera presented and performed outside Cuba.


Performance Film Done

The film of the entire opera as performed in Havana in May 2015 is done. It was screened for invited guests in the Bay Area at Opera Plaza Cinema a few weeks ago to great acclaim. Those who’d seen it live in Cuba said they very much enjoyed seeing it again.

DVDs of the film are circulating to presenting and producing venues worldwide which are considering re-mounting the opera.

In future posts I’ll update progress getting Cubanacan seen far and wide.


Performance Film: Picture Locked

We locked picture today on the Havana performance video. That means all shots and edits are in place. It’s looking fantastic.

Next steps: opening and closing credits, adjusting color, adding subtitles.

Curtain call opening night.

Curtain call opening night.

Lots going on right now, Cuba-wise. Tomorrow the Pope arrives in Havana. Monday new U.S. regulations take effect allowing even more travel access for U.S. citizens, expansion of Internet services, and commercial air service.

Also reported today, the Rolling Stones will be playing Havana for the first time next spring. I’m pre-visualizing Keith with a Cohiba and triple rum on the terrace at the Hotel Nacional.

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Havana Performance Video Nears Completion

Yesterday Dan Friedman completed the rough cut of the video of the Havana performances. This was no easy task. Though I had multiple cameras over two nights, the choice of useable shots was, well… spotty. What can I say? It’s Cuba. In any case, it’s going to look and sound great.

Video editor Dan Friedman edits Havana performance of Cubanacan opera.

Video editor Dan Friedman edits Havana performance of Cubanacan opera.

Speaking of audio… Night Two coming up shortly at the splendid San Francisco Opera media suit where I am doing audio sweetening of the performance film. That means evening out volume, tweaking EQ, and doing other magical stuff which mixer Michael Chen pulls out of his toolbox to make the soundtrack sing. Pun intended.

Michael Chen sweetens Fidel Castro's aria in Cubanacan

Michael Chen sweetens Fidel Castro’s aria in Cubanacan opera.

Here’s some video. A sneak peak behind-the-scenes of last night’s session. Featuring Fidel on the golf course.

The final video, with subtitles, should be out of the oven in ten days or so. Then it goes to various opera companies and presenters who have asked to see it so they can consider re-mounting the show. I have a sales agent who will be pitching it for broadcast rights, here and abroad.


Beyond Havana

I just returned from a quick trip to New York and Washington, D.C. where I had several meetings with presenters and producers about mounting the opera. There is a lot of interest in Cuba now, so the timing was good. I’m encouraged.

The Lincoln Center Festival in New York has been tracking developments with the opera over the last several years. They will consider “Cubanacan” for an upcoming season.

I had a very productive meeting with The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. They spoke about programming the opera for their 2017 season — three or four performances. They’d want to bring in the Cuban performers, which is fantastic.

I met with Nederlander Worldwide, which staged a Cuban version of “Rent” in Havana last year to great acclaim. Nederlander has an ongoing relationship with major theatrical venues in China. They will bring the idea of presenting “Cubanacan” to their partners in China.

Stay tuned for new developments as I focus my energy on getting “Cubanacan” on stage in the United States, Europe, and Asia.


Second New York Times Story

In today’s Sunday New York Times, on the front page of the Arts and Leisure section, there is a feature story about the Havana Bienal which includes prominent mention of the opera:

Note the gorgeous photo of Oshun by our good friend Ricky Opaterny.

Oshun NYT

In case you missed it an earlier New York Times feature story about the opera by Michael Cooper ran the day of the premiere. Here:

A reminder that you can view seven minutes of video highlights from the Havana performance here:

My goal now is to build on the success in Cuba by having the opera produced in the U.S., Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Next week I travel to New York and Washington, DC for meetings with major venues and producers. Interest is brewing already.