Frank’s partnership with Cruz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, has been fruitful within the live performance corridor, however that is their first opera. As a group, although, they’re naturals: his libretto poetically concise, her atmosphere of it flowingly dramatic, with beneficiant, singer-friendly melodies and an ear for the musicality of language at the degree of syllables and phrases.
Their matter is very acquainted — the affection of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera — however the remedy is much less biographical and extra mythic. This can be a paintings that offers within the vast strokes of opera, and turns out to tip its hat to the earliest recognized tale within the artwork shape: Orpheus and Eurydice. However right here, as an alternative of the hero touring to the underworld to retrieve a misplaced love, the protagonist trips to the land of the residing. In each instances, although, an inventive spirit is needed to move borders, and there are dire penalties for any missteps.
In coming near his characters this manner, Cruz avoids the pitfalls of retreading the well known ups and downs of Kahlo and Rivera’s dating. As an alternative, they’re handled as archetypes, for the easier. And moderately than inform a lifestyles tale — which in opera has a tendency to lead to episodic, undramatic works — Cruz hews to classical unities, with a targeted plot that unfolds at the Mexican Day of the Lifeless.
Diego — the baritone Alfredo Daza, a quiet and low-lying presence that grew because the night time spread out — begs Frida to go back to him 3 years after her demise. However Frida (the frequently affectingly aching mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack), within the Aztec underworld, doesn’t need to revisit where of her emotional and bodily agony. In spite of everything, she is persuaded by means of a fellow artist, a tender actor named Leonardo, sung with creamy richness by means of the countertenor Jake Ingbar.
She is lured by means of the hope of going again for her artwork, moderately than for Diego — whom she can’t contact, she is warned by means of the Keeper of the Lifeless, Catrina (the soprano Yaritza Véliz, the paintings’s comedian and musical spotlight), or she will likely be newly barraged with recollections of ache. In fact she touches him, in a reconciliatory embody, however she is as soon as once more stored by means of portray. And, because the Day of the Lifeless involves an finish, he pleads to the gods to let him sign up for her within the underworld, the place they continue to be in combination without end.
Frank’s rating, just like the libretto, most commonly avoids evident alternatives, with simplest flashes of conventional Mexican track. However the manufacturing, by means of Lorena Maza, is sensitively particular to position, supported by means of Jorge Ballina’s scenic design and Eloise Kazan’s costumes, on a level arrange like a terraced cemetery adorned for the Day of the Lifeless. The motion takes position inside of a gilded body that surrounds the proscenium; focusing issues even additional are shutter-like panels coloured with a wealthy blue redolent of Kahlo’s space, the Casa Azul.