“I am thrilled to showcase the beautiful ‘Love Duet’ from the opera, Escobar, composed by the brilliant Matteo Neri and featuring the captivating libretto written by Alejandra Villarreal Martinez.” And so, Claudia Chapa, Austin Opera Curator for Latinx and Hispanic Programming, introduces Subito Music’s latest operatic venture when Matteo Neri and Alejandra Martinez’s “Love Duet” — from the opera Escobar — is presented on April 4, 2023, as part of Opera ATX’s “Bella Noche de Música.”
Escobar — a Spanish-language opera — is a work-in-progress that adapts the life of internationally known Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. “Bella Noche de Música” is part of Austin ATX’s celebratory program that features an array of musical artists including singers from Mexico’s national opera company, Ópera de Bellas Artes. Soprano Génesis Moreno and tenor Jorge Echeagaray will sing the roles of Tata Escobar and Pablo Escobar, as Timothy Myers conducts the Austin Opera Orchestra. Escobar began development in 2016 as part of the Fort Worth Opera’s workshop program. A forthcoming workshop is scheduled for December 2023, to be will be showcased at Opera Theater Rutgers in New Jersey.
“I’m so honored,” Neri shares “that Escobar will be part of the ‘Bella Noche de Música’ concert at Austin Opera; “and I applaud Annie Burridge, Claudia Chapa, and everybody at Austin Opera for prioritizing Spanish-language works.” He continues. “The story of Pablo Escobar is quintessentially operatic. It is also a very relevant story in the 21st century. As a native Italian, I am very aware of the toll that organized crime can have on a country. All of the Americas have been dealing with these issues for decades as well, and I believe that it is important to shed light on these issues in art. I am also passionate about revitalizing opera in Romance languages, particularly Spanish. Spanish is an American language, and it has been so underutilized in American opera. I am honored to follow the examples of such vanguard composers as Daniel Catán and Gabriela Ortiz in adding to the American contemporary Spanish-language repertory.”
Martinez adds, “Writing this operatic version of Pablo Escobar, a man who symbolizes many different things to many different people, was certainly daunting; but, I was most interested in stepping away from stereotypical portrayals and instead show him as neither a saint or a demon, but as a human being…This love duet was written early in my collaboration with Matteo and was to both of us an indicator of just how well we would work together. I drew inspiration from classic Spanish-language soft rock and love songs I heard in my childhood, which, to me, always painted pictures of love in bold colors. Since then, the full work has continued to grow and our understanding of these complicated historical figures has only deepened. We are thrilled to see ATX Opera: Bella Noche de Música bring our duet to life, a tender moment of love that only magnifies our opera’s ultimately dark ending.”