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.

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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.

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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

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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”.]

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Sketches for the scenery

September 29, 2014



The first sketch is for the opening of Act 1 where the opera company is boarding the S.S Newbern.

The second sketch is for the opening of Act 2 where the mazatlecos welcome Ángela Peralta to their city.

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Sets are being made

September 28, 2014

la foto It’s exciting to see an opera come to life, bit by bit. Raúl Rico has been sending me pictures of the opera in progress: here is a shot of the set from Act 1 being built. I’m fairly sure it’s going to be a boat!

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Biography of Ángela Peralta

September 27, 2014

Angela_Peralta_full_length_portraitÁngela Peralta (6 July 1845, Mexico City – 30 August 1883, Mazatlán) (baptised María de los Ángeles Manuela Tranquilina Cirila Efrena Peralta Castera) was an operatic soprano of international fame and a leading figure in the operatic life of 19th century Mexico. Called the “Mexican Nightingale” in Europe, she had already sung to acclaim in major European opera houses by the age of 20. Although primarily known for her singing, she was also a composer as well as an accomplished pianist and harpist.

Ángela Peralta was the daughter of Manuel Peralta and Josefa Castera de Peralta. She showed an early talent for singing and music. At the age of 8, she sang a cavatina from Belisario by Gaetano Donizetti with great success, and went on to study at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Mexico City. At 15 she made her operatic debut as Leonora in Giuseppe Verdi’s Il trovatore at the Teatro Nacional in Mexico City. Accompanied by her father, and financed by a wealthy patron, Santiago de la Vega, she then went on to study singing in Italy under Leopardi. On 13 May 1862, she made her debut at La Scala in Milan with an acclaimed performance of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. She sang Bellini’s La sonnambula before King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy at the Teatro Regio in Turin where she received 32 curtain calls. Between 1863 and 1864, she sang in the opera houses of Rome, Florence, Bologna, Genoa, Naples, Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, St. Petersburg, Alexandria, and Cairo. The Second Mexican Empire invited her to return to her country to sing in the National Imperial Theatre, and in 1865 she accepted the invitation. In 1866 she sang before Maximilian I of Mexico and Charlotte of Belgium and was named “Chamber singer of the Empire”. In December 1866 with the downfall of the Second Mexican Empire imminent, she returned to Europe, performing in New York and Havana along the way. In Madrid, she married her cousin, Eugenio Castera, and for a while retired from singing, although she continued to compose songs and piano pieces. Her most well-known work is Álbum Musical de Ángela Peralta. Her marriage was an unhappy one due to her husband’s mental illness which manifested itself in the first year of their marriage. (Castera was later committed to a mental hospital in Paris where he died in 1876.)

On a visit to Mexico in 1871, Peralta established her own touring opera company for which she frequently sang her signature roles – Amina in La sonnambula and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. (In her lifetime, she sang Amina 122 times, and Lucia 166 times.)

In the mid-1870s she began an affair with the Mexican lawyer and entrepreneur Julián Montiel y Duarte, which caused a scandal in Mexico City. The city’s social elite boycotted her performances and hired hecklers to harass her during performances. Her reputation recovered following her performance in Linda di Chamounix, but she kept her vow never to sing in Mexico City again. In 1883, with her reputation (and economic situation) again in decline, she began a tour of northern Mexico with her troupe of Italian opera singers. The tour began in Guaymas and proceeded to La Paz, Baja California Sur. It was in La Paz that she sang for the last time on stage – the title role in Maria di Rohan – with the performance taking place in a theatre improvised from a disused sand pit. On 22 August, the troupe arrived in the port city of Mazatlán, where they were to perform Il trovatore and Aida. The city of Mazatlán prepared an elaborate welcome for her. Her boat docked at a pier decorated with garlands of flowers, and she was greeted by a band playing the Mexican National Anthem. When her carriage arrived, her admirers unhitched the horses and pulled it themselves to the Hotel Iturbide, where she once again saluted the crowds from her balcony. However, within a few days, she and 76 of the troupe’s 80 members were to die in the yellow fever epidemic that swept the city shortly after their arrival.

Ángela Peralta died in the Hotel Iturbide in Mazatlán at the age of 38 on 30 August 1883. She married her lover Julián Montiel y Duarte on her deathbed. According to an eyewitness account of the marriage ceremony, she was already unconscious when it took place. One of the singers from her company, Lemus, supported her by the shoulders. When asked if she took Montiel y Duarte as her husband, Lemus moved her head to make it appear that she was nodding her assent. Before her burial in Mazatlán, her body lay in state, dressed in one of her opera costumes and her best jewels. In 1937, her remains were disinterred and brought to the Rotunda de Hombres Ilustres (the Rotunda of Illustrious People) in Mexico City’s Panteón de Dolores. Both Mazatlán and San Miguel de Allende have theatres named in her honour.

Voice and repertoire
A Mazatlán opera-lover and journalist, who watched Peralta rehearsing in the Teatro Rubio on 22 August 1883, wrote in his diary:

“She is a woman with an agreeable presence, slightly obese, with bulging but very lively eyes. She has a wonderful voice that produces notes from the very highest to the lowest with astounding ease; she sang several variations with such delicate notes, like the trill of a goldfinch…”

Peralta’s wide-ranging repertoire included: Leonora in Il trovatore, Violetta in La traviata; Elvira in I puritani; Marie in La fille du régiment; Amina in La sonnambula; Adina in L’elisir d’amore; and the title roles in Aida, Dinorah, Linda di Chamounix, Maria di Rohan, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Norma. She also created the leading female roles in three operas by Mexican composers: Ildegonda (1866) and Gino Corsini (1877) by Melesio Morales, and Guatimotzin (1871) by Aniceto Ortega del Villar.

[From Wikipedia entry on Ángela Peralta.]

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MazatlánLife is a useful website for people going to Mazatlán to hear our opera. They also did several interviews with me last year which can be heard on their website.

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Here is a video advertisement for Cultura/Mazatlán’s season:
El Festival Cultural Mazatlán 2014.

Our opera is part of this festival and will premiere 14, 15 November 2014 at the Teatro Ángela Peralta in Mazatlán

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IMG_20120113_154711Act I

On a warm August evening Angela Peralta de Castera, celebrated Mexican soprano, and her 80-person opera company board the S.S. Newbern, an American steamer just arrived in La Paz from Panama; they have booked passage across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlán, where the company will conclude its summer tour with a week of performances in the Teatro Rubio. Captain Martin Ybarra, who watches the passengers, ponders the relationships between the company, and anticipates learning more about the famous soprano and her associates.

As the ship begins the voyage and night falls, Julián Montiel y Duarte, the company’s business manager, meets the captain for conversation. Julián has known Angela since childhood, when he met her during a vocal competition; although she has forgotten that first meeting he has loved her ever since. When she returned to Mexico after a triumphant European career, he met her again. The conversation is interrupted, first by a sudden violent squall (a chubasco, as they are called in the Sea of Cortez), and finally by squabbles below deck; Julián departs to settle the company.

Ybarra checks on the status of the voyage, and is angered when a sailor suddenly collapses, presumably drunk. He sends the man below and returns to his cabin.

Angela meets him at the door. He offers her sherry; she accepts tequila and a cigar. As they converse, Angela describes her return to Mexico in the manner of a sentimental press release: not false, but very controlled All too soon, however, they are interrupted by a sailor: the captain’s presence is urgently required below decks. Ybarra leaves Angela in the company of sailors on the deck, who greet her enthusiastically. After a brief interruption by La Zepilli and La Saborini, two company sopranos who are ostentatious frenemies, the sailors beg Angela for a song. She obliges with her signature tune, “The Dove in the Tree.” In return, a sailor sings a love song in her honor.

On deck during the sailor’s song is Rosa Vargas de Montiel, Julián’s wife. Somber and bitter, she has a story she wishes to tell the captain as well—but her is once again interrupted by trouble below decks. Rosa is left to tell her story to no one. She was also a singer, and was a participant in the vocal competition that Julián remembers; she recalls it differently, and nurses a grudge against Angela for having been unjustly singled out as a star. To make matters worse, she married Julián because he seemed as interested in her then as he was in Angela—but he has forgotten that she was ever there, and when Angela returned to Mexico, Julián began an affair with her that still continues. Rosa is reduced to being the company bookkeeper, and now Julián has asked for a divorce, and she has consented. Nevertheless, she has had enough of bitterness and envy. Singing to herself, she invokes the nightingale as her emblem, hoping to face the future with hope and determination.

Suddenly a soprano cat-fight erupts from below decks. La Zepilli and La Saborini make a scene. Angela brings the shenanigans to a halt and forces the sopranos to make up. Julián, seeing Rosa, attempts to be civil, but she is still bitter. Angela tries to ease things, but with no success, and Rosa departs to her duties. Angela and Julián reminisce, and begin to hope that the tour’s conclusion in Mazatlán will also be a new beginning for them both. As the members of the company appear on deck, the ship arrives in Mazatlán.
The first mate recognizes that the troubles with the sailors has one cause: the ship is carrying Yellow Fever. (22 August, 1883—Tuesday.)

Act II
Arriving in the Plazuela Machado, Angela is greeted by rapturous acclaim: a mysterious man (the historical, legendary bandit Eraclio Bernal) hands her a white rose, the crowd serenades her, and Maclovio Castellanos, the prefect of Mazatlán, gives a welcoming speech. Angela rises to the occasion with an eloquent speech of her own. As the crowd disperses, Julián encounters Araceli, an old women who mutters strange warnings about death and ruin.

The next morning, Rosa is working at the accounts when she is visited by Beatriz Melani, an adventuress. When Mexico City’s society discovered Angela’s affair with Julián, they boycotted her performances and even hired a claque to disrupt them. Beatriz was the primary organizer of the claque; but Rosa was secretly directing them. Now, since Rosa has broken off ties, Beatriz is blackmailing her. Later on, Beatriz appears in Angela’s retinue, but Rosa has Julián expel her from the hotel.

But there are more urgent problems to consider; singers and crew are beginning to fall ill, and there is no treatment available. Angela, Julián, and Rosa unite in the face of financial ruin.

Four days later, Angela and Julián have returned from mass; she feels rather weak, but is determined to press on. But more singers are ill. As Angela strives to manage her company, she collapses into hallucinations. Julián reflects on his love for her.

The next day, an anxious crowd has gathered in the Plazuelo Machado, hoping to hear Angela sing to them. She is delirious, but goes to the balcony to perform a version of the nightingale song. Afterwards she collapses into a fever dream. When she wakes, Araceli is there as a nurse. Angela reflects on her own life, on choices made and refused.

Three days later, Julián’s divorce is final, and he has arranged for a marriage ceremony in Angela’s suite. Angela is unconscious or unresponsive, and has to be “helped” to assent to the marriage. After the officials leave, Rosa enters to make peace, Hearing the crowd again outside, Rosa dons Angela’s shawl and goes to the balcony to sing “The Dove in the Tree.” Angela awakens, and hearing Rosa, is glad to have someone take her place. She and Julián acknowledge the wrongs they have done. When Rosa returns, Julián observes that yet again, no one will know that Rosa was singing. She accepts this as a debt she owed. As Angela dies, the three of them forgive one another; Julián and Rosa watch by Angela’s bedside.
Inspired by the final weeks of the life of Ángela Peralta
Libretto by Mitchell Morris
Storyline by Mitchell Morris and Roger Bourland
© 2014 by Roger Bourland and Mitchell Morris

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