Book Day: Recommendations for books that inspired Latin American operas

To celebrate World Book Day, we conducted a search for Latin American operas based on works of fiction, novels, literary classics, among other books. We recommend this literary selection from Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru that showcases the work of Latin American composers and writers.


Cumandá or a drama among savages

Juan León Mera wrote Cumandá in Ecuador in 1877, a time when the lands were not little explored. The novel is set at the beginning of the 19th century and three operas emerged from it: Cumandá o la virgen de las selvas by Pedro Pablo Traversari Salazar (1874-1956) and , Cumandá by Sixto María Durán Cárdenas (1875-1947) and Cumandá by Luis H. Salgado (1903-1977) (listen HERE).


Autor: Juan León Mera

Editorial: Cátedra

Año: 2005

Isbn: 8437616271


Pedro Páramo

First novel by Mexican writer Juan Rulfo published in 1955 and catalogued as one of the precursor works of the Latin American boom due to its magical realism. It gave life to the opera by composer Julio Estrada (listen to the artist HERE), called Murmullos del páramo premiered at the Teatro Español in 2006.


This revolutionary novel is about Juan Preciado who goes in search of his father Pedro Paramo to Comala, a town in Mexico. Pedro is a cacique who was corrupted by the power generated by the Revolution.

Pedro Páramo

Autor: Juan Rulfo

Editorial: Origo Ediciones

Isbn: 9789563162578



The Guarani

Il Guarany (The Guarani) is a ballet opera with music by Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Gomes (listen HERE) and libretto in Italian by Antonio Scalvini and Carlo D’Ormeville. The opera is based on the book El Guarani by José de Alencar and was premiered at the Teatro La Scala in Milan in 1870, being the composer’s most recognized opera.

El Guaraní 

Editorial: Obelisco

Año de edición: 2001





La Araucana

Published between 1574 and 1598, Alonso de Ercilla’s epic poem is the first-person testimony of the beginnings of the Arauco War in Chile. This classic of Latin American literature inspired the opera Lautaro composed by Eliodoro Ortiz de Zárate (listen HERE), which premiered at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago on August 12, 1902 with the hall half full, according to some chroniclers.


La Araucana

Author: Alonso De Ercilla

Publisher: Penguin Clásicos

Isbn13: 9789569687334


Requiem for a Nun

Requiem for a Nun  is a work of fiction written by William Faulkner that was first published in 1951. This work inspired the opera Requiem, by Argentine composer Oscar Stasnoy (listen to the artist HERE) entirely produced and commissioned by the Teatro Colón. The work was premiered in 2014 and the libretto and direction was in charge of the Canadian Matthew Jocelyn, the musical direction counted with the baton of the Argentine maestro Christian Baldini, the set design was a work assembled and shared by Anick La Bissonière and Eric Oliver Lacroix and the costume design was by the Argentine Aníbal Lápiz.

Requiem for a Nun

Author: William Faulkner

Publisher: Vintage Books

Year: 2011




Bel Canto

Award-winning Peruvian classical composer, Jimmy López Bellido (listen to the artist HERE), has been described as “one of today’s most exciting young composers” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Jimmy López lives in the United States and premiered the opera based on Ann Patchet’s novel of the same name; Bel Canto. The work was premiered in 2012 at the Chicago Opera.

Bel Canto

Autor: Ann Patchett

Editorial: Harpercollins