La Paloma y el Ruiseñor (Spanish subtitles)

La Paloma y el Ruiseñor (English subtitles)

Premiere performance of LA PALOMA Y EL RUISENOR (2014) Music by Roger Bourland, Libretto by Mitchell Morris, Spanish adaptation by Placido Domingo Jr, and additional orchestrations and adjustment to the Spanish setting by Scott Dunn.

Composer: Roger Bourland
Libretto: Mitchell Morris
Spanish adaptation: Placido Domingo Jr.
Conductor: Scott Dunn

November 14, 15 2014: 8:00

Producer: Raúl Rico González
Production assistant: Abril Márquez
Orchestra: Camarata Mazatlán; Percival Álvarez, Music Director
Chorus: Coro Guillermo Sarabia, Music Directors Enrique Patrón de Rueda and Martha Félix
Dance ensembles:
Delfos Danza Contemporánea, Víctor Manuel Ruiz, Director
Ballet Folklórico, Javier Arcadia, Director
Stage direction: Ramón Gómez Polo and Raúl Rico González
Stage design: Jorge González Nery
Costumes: Elisa Espinosa

Jessica Loaiza Pérez/Ángela Peralta
Armando Piña López/ Julián
Penélope María Luna Núñez/Rosa
Emily Sánchez Osuna/ Young Ángela
Jessika Arevalo/La Zepilli
Adriana Romero Jesus Ramirez/La Saborini
Fernando Martinez/Captain Ybarra
Miguel Gonzalez/Maclovio Castellanos
Héctor Rosendo Valle Loera/Solomon Marsh, Juan Jacobo Valadés
Christopher Roldan, Ramón Ocampo
Eden Vega/Cecilio Ocón, Carlos Meneses
Esteban Baltazar/ Young Julián, Eraclio Bernal
Athenea Reyes/Hermana Josefina
Mariela Angulo/Beatriz Melani
Miguel Valenzuela/Prof Agustín Balderas
Irving Bonilla/Cristóbal, Jesús Caravantes
Flor Estrada/Madame L’Aiguille, Araceli
Karla Alvarez/Madame DiGrazia
Laura Martinez/La Venadita
Alba Cecilia Rivera/Young Rosa


Press conferences

May 23, 2015


Raúl Rico coordinated several press conferences for the opera. I was delighted to learn later that the premiere was widely publicized throughout Mexico. Scott Dunn and I had one interview with Raúl Rico as our faithful translator. (This has inspired me to become fluent in Spanish so that I don’t ever have to rely on translators, and besides, it’s a beautiful and great language.)


The second interview involved town scholar, Enrique Vega, a professor and the go-to man with any questions regarding Mazatlán history, including Ángela Peralta. Raúl set up this little panel discussion to go over what Mitchell and I put in the opera about Angela Peralta, and what ACTUALLY happened. Fact versus fiction. Most people in attendance said they liked OUR story better.


Meta meta

February 5, 2015

My spouse kept telling people that my opera was a “meta opera” and by that, he meant:

• this is an opera about an opera singer (Angela Peralta)
• an opera that takes place in Mazatlán and that will be premiered in Mazatlán

And there was another one. Act 1 involves a ship ride from La Paz to Mazatlán over the Sea of Cortez. Squalls, called “chubascos” can come up at any time and just as quickly go away. Just after this picture was taken (above) it started raining. It was Hurricane Vance going over. The streets outside our rehearsal turned into rivers. The room we rehearsed in at the Casa Haas, had a glass roof over it, and unfortunately leaks when it pours rain. So the singers got a bit wet, and they had to compete with the sound of the pouring rain on the glass roof.

I loved it. In that I often compose while listening to recordings of rain and thunder, it was perfect for me. We had our own personal chubasco.


[The next group of posts were written after the premiere of the opera.]
Opera director and friend Peter Kazaras insisted that I meet with the singers as early as possible. As our performance was a combination of students and faculty it is especially important to have that early meeting. Peter explained that singers internalize their music, becoming a kind of muscle memory. It’s easy to make note changes for instrumentalists: “Clarinet, that is a B flat in measure 47″ and they change the note. Singers have to change a lot more making that change, it has to become part of their musculature, their muscle memory. So seven weeks before the premiere, conductor Scott Dunn and I flew to Mazatlán to meet with the soloists and the chorus.

I made changes to the vocal parts throughout the rehearsals, some permanent and some adjusted to the voice on the part. There were occasional textual adjustments where the wrong syllable was on the wrong beat which required a little rhythmic offsetting. I also decided to add choral parts to one aria and at the very end of the opera. This was tricky business but they all learned their new parts by the premiere.

Conferencia-16webI was blessed to have Raúl Rico as the producer and godfather behind the project. The opera would never have happened had he not believed in the work. His work as the director of Cultura/Mazatlan is terrific, besides the fact that my opera was a part of his season. The publicity for the opera was amazing. There were posters all over town, and even in the customs area as you arrive into the airport had large posters. We heard that there were radio spots all over Mexico about the opera. Raúl called a press conference the week Scott and I were there, and we were happy to attend a room full of reporters and photographers. I told Raúl that my Spanish was not yet ready for the press conference as I hadn’t yet learned past or future, to which Raúl responded: “Perfect!” He nonetheless served as my faithful translator. Scott’s Spanish is better than mine so he fielded some questions in Spanish.


I have been blessed in my recent collaboration with pianist, conductor Scott Dunn who will be conducting the world premiere of my opera, La Paloma y el Ruiseñor at the Teatro Angela Peralta in Mazatlán, Mexico on November 14 and 15, 2014.

Having scored several feature films, I have learned the value of “cutting”——this happens on all levels of the film industry, but in music it means that just because a composer provides good music for a scene, if, in the mind of the director, the music is not helping or doesn’t capture the mood, he asks that the music be rewritten. All film composers, from Danny Elfman and John Williams to beginning film composers, do rewrites. My college professor in music history, Lawrence Gushee, often complained that contemporary music of the 20th century suffered due to a lack of collaboration, or feedback from others (I simplify his comments here). Every damn note was sacred and they wouldn’t consider cutting anything. It’s just not in the culture of concert composers of the 20th/21st century to make cuts. I encourage composers who are reading this to reconsider and learn from Hollywood. And opera. Opera composers regularly revised and cut their operas to make them better. Puccini didn’t have the luxury of workshops where composers could try out their work in private: he had full blown performances and was criticized in the press and from the audiences, and based on that he made changes to all of his operas. The critics and audiences were, in essence, his collaborators. They told him: “this doesn’t work for me,” “this part drags,” “this aria goes on too long.”

My collaborator in the 1990s, John Hall, who directed opera and music theater at UCLA, was a terrific collaborator in our cantatas “Hidden Legacies” and “Flashpoint/Stonewall.” He never minced words: Roger, this is boring; this doesn’t work; you’ve got to be kidding; or just a look he’d give to let me know what I had written wasn’t up to snuff. In the 1980s, I scored three feature films and in every one there were rewrites: “nice music, Roger but it doesn’t work for me. Rewrite it.” And I did, without attitude (with a few exceptions where I stood my ground).

This is all background to the opera we are working on now. Scott Dunn has been a marvelous collaborator. The Mitchell Morris libretto was adapted into Spanish by Placido Domingo Jr. Placido’s work was terrific: he worked hard to fit Spanish into the music that was originally written in English, and avoided changing rhythms wherever possible. And despite his respectful work, I decided to make a completely different version for the Spanish edition. Spanish just doesn’t line up with English. Scott was not as gracious as Placido. He’d say: NO! You need to rethink many of your melodies so that they flow more convincingly in Spanish. Placido was appreciative of Scott’s intolerance of preserving the original rhythms, and embracing the beauty and flow of the Spanish language. Words, notes, rhythms are changed, all done to make a better, more understandable and dramatic work. I had to “get over myself” and take the advice of my collaborator(s).

But Scott’s collaboration didn’t end there. We went over every note in the orchestration, making sure it would effectively accompany and not drown out the singers. I gave him credit on the title page for that assistance.

As rehearsals are going on now, we are constantly making changes, cuts and adjustments to make the opera a better work of art and piece of entertainment. The cast sees all these changes being made in real time and it makes them realize that this is a work in progress. I have made changes to most of the leading roles as well, adjusting and tailoring the music to the their voices and to be sure that they can be heard over the orchestra. Last night we cut a minute and a half from an aria that went on too long.

When I told Scott I was writing this article, he said it should be called “RB: the art of collaboration.” LOL. True, but finding the right match in collaborators is not always an easy job. Scott has been a terrific collaborator and friend during this whole process. So I raise my hat to my wonderful collaborator. The opera is a better piece of music with his help.


My two favorite patter songs

October 14, 2014

“Pick a little, talk a little” from Music Man by Meredith Willson.

“Not getting married” from COMPANY by Stephen Sondheim.

Both of these are inspirations for my patter song in LA PALOMA Y EL RUISEÑOR where Julián nervously reintroduces himself to Ángela as she returns to Mexico from Europe.


A handheld private recording made by someone, but you’ll get a glimpse into the talent of Armando Piña performing in a recent competition who will be premiering the role of Julián in LA PALOMA Y EL RUISENOR, at the Teatro Angela Peralta; Nov. 14, 15, 2014 in Mazatlán, Mexico.

The work Armando performs here is “Ja vas lyublyu” (Prince’s Aria) from The Queen of Spades by Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky. From
Final del XXXII Concurso Nacional de Canto Carlo Morelli, conducted by Enrique Patrón de Rueda, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.


I had the honor of working with a most brilliant soprano on the faculty in Mazatlan, Penelope Luna, who will play Rosa in LA PALOMA Y EL RUISENOR. I made a number of adjustments for her voice and talent. And after I heard this Gliere performance, I felt free to go even higher! You will get an idea of her talent by this amazing performance of the Gliere Concerto for Coloratura Soprano and Orchestra under the baton of Enrique Patron de Rueda.

Conductor Scott Dunn and I are honored to have the assistance of Maestro Patron and Maestra Martha Félix in coaching the chorus and soloists in our opera. Both are brilliant and demanding voice coaches in the opera training program in Mazatlán. It shows in the quality of their students. By the end of the rehearsal, I made many changes to rhythms as well as texts thanks to Maestro Patrón’s perceptive critiques of my setting of Spanish.


Jessica will performing the role of Ángela Peralta in Mazatlán in November. Here she is performing “Era desso il figlio mio” by Donizetti

VI Concurso Canto Internacional Sinaloa 2014

Jessica Loaiza Pérez, segundo lugar, premio del Público y premio La voz Sonfonic.

Orquesta Sinaloa de las Artes
Mtro. Enrique Patrón de Rueda, director

Era desso il figlio mio de la Ópera Lucrezia Borgia de Donizetti


Channeling a countermelody

October 1, 2014

Georges_bizetMany of my faithful readers know that I channel dead composers from time to time. Well, not really, I pretend to and it makes for a good read.

But something eery happened recently that was very likely channeling something or someone. And I have a witness.

Conductor, Scott Dunn sat with me for several days going over the orchestration of my opera [on my computer using notation/playback software called Sibelius] with meticulous detail. While going over part of Act 2, I heard an amazing countermelody. I tried to not say anything. I scrolled to look at the horn part as the countermelody was in the horns. There was nothing there. I played it again. There was a fabulous countermelody in the horns. But there was not a single note in the horn part.

Who’s there? Hello? Was it Lenny? Or was it Georges? Both names I evoke from time to time as the godfathers of this opera.leonardbernstein1

I asked Scott whether he heard it and he said “yes.” I grilled him on the exact notes and what instrument it was in and he got it spot on. I exclaimed “OK OK, I’ll put it in.” So I put in the channeled horn countermelody. We have no idea who it was. But it’s in the music now. And I have a witness.

It must have been Rosemary Brown playing tricks on me again.

[Photos: Georges Bizet, composer of “Carmen”; Leonard Bernstein, composer of “West Side Story”: Godfathers of “La Paloma y el Ruiseñor”.]