“The last dream of Frida and Diego”: The opera in Spanish that opened the season at the San Diego Opera
The opera The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, by the American composer Gabriela Lena Frank with a libretto by Nilo Cruz, opened the San Diego Opera season last October. The opera, presented entirely in Spanish, is a co-production between the San Diego company, the San Francisco Opera, Fort Worth Opera and the DePauw University School of Music. The leading roles were played by the Mexican mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz and the Mexican baritone Alfredo Daza.
The San Diego Opera opened its season with The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, by Gabriela Lena Frank. The opera is a fictional story, inspired by the lives of the two Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Three years have passed since Frida’s death, and Diego cries for his wife. On the Day of the Dead he prays for her return, and La Catrina, guardian of the underworld, grants her wish allowing Frida and Diego to rekindle their passionate relationship once more.
Frida and Diego’s Last Dream is the first opera by Grammy Award-winning composer Gabriela Lena Frank with a libretto written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. Frida and Diego’s Last Dream is a co-production with San Francisco Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, DePauw University School of Music, with additional support from the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts.
The performances star soprano Guadalupe Paz as Frida, who was last heard locally as Mercedes in 2019’s Carmen. She is joined by baritone Alfredo Daza as Diego, soprano Maria Katzarava as Catrina, and countertenor Key’mon Murrah. as Leonardo debuts in the company. The director is Lorena Maza and the director is Roberto Kalb, both in the company’s debuts.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have inspired generations of artists and this new opera explores the relationship between these two great Mexican artists. During the celebration of the Day of the Dead, surrounded by candles and the fragrance of marigolds, the great muralist Diego Rivera longs to see his late wife Frida Kahlo once again. Catrina, the guardian of souls, approaches Frida in the afterlife, explaining that Diego desperately needs his beloved wife as she nears the end of her life. For just twenty hours, Frida and Diego will relive their tumultuous love through their paintings and embrace the passion they shared.
Composer Gabriela Lena Frank said: “Frida Kahlo has been a hero since my childhood. Before I could read, I found her in the pages of an art book in my mother’s library, the only woman in a multi-volume set of “great artists”. My mother pointed out how Frida was petite, dark-haired, and creative like us; also, thick-browed, disabled, and a daughter of Europe and Latin America like me. The images in her paintings danced in my dreams for years. Now, with my first opera with librettist Nilo Cruz, it has been a privilege to lose myself in this fantastic story that explores Frida’s tumultuous love story, even beyond life itself, with Mexican Diego Rivera against the vibrant backdrop of the Day of the Dead. I am grateful”.
This is a new production, built at the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio and San Diego Opera Costume Shop. The set designer is Jorge Ballina, the costume designer is Eloise Kazan and the lighting designer is Victor Zapatero. This is a co-production between the San Diego Opera and the San Francisco Opera. Frida and Diego’s Last Dream is the fourth world premiere presented by the San Diego Opera after Medea in 1972, La Loca in 1979 and El conquistador in 1997.