Report from Havana #2

On my last evening in Havana.

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View from my stool at the end of Sloppy Joe’s bar.

Composer Roberto Valera and I held several productive meetings together this week. We went through the entire newly revised libretto, discussing each scene, character and story beat. We talked about the musical ideas we both imagine for each section. We discussed the appropriate singing voice for each part.

Tuesday evening I met with Jorge Fernandez, the Director of the Wilfredo Center for Contemporary Art, whom I’ve known for several years. Jorge is also Director of the Havana Bienniale, a very important international arts festival.

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From the retrospective exhibit of past Bienniale works, curated by Jorge Fernandez.

Jorge invited me to present the complete opera at the next Bienniale to be held in May 2015. He suggested we perform at ISA, the art schools where the story takes place. This is a very important opportunity for the project. There is much to do to be ready in one year’s time!

Zenaida Romeu, our Music Director, is very excited about this plan. “We can do it!” she says. Zenaida is giving me suggestions and contacts for the team we need to assemble: for starters the Director, Set Designer and Choreographer.

Today Roberto and I went together to ISA where he taught his weekly composition class.

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Roberto Valera at the entrance to the art schools.

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The School of Plastic Arts.


While there we looked at the location he and Zenaida recommend for the performances: at the entrance to the School of Plastic Arts. (Picture below.) He sang for me — proving the acoustics at the entrance are fantastic.

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Entrance where the opera will be performed in May 2015.

Yesterday I was joined by Roberto Chile, one of Cuba’s best known filmmakers — my co-director on the “making-of” documentary — who filmed the material I used in the short promotional video which can be found on this website. Chile filmed throughout yesterday — documenting our activities, discussions, and creative process.

All-in-all this was a fantastic week. Roberto told me this morning he’s already started to work on the first scene of the opera.

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On a street in Havana Vieja.

Over the next few months he will complete the score — at this stage for two pianos, singers and percussion. In August I plan to return to Havana to interview new additions to the creative team, and to continue working with Zenaida and Roberto.

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