Alibi V.15 No.16 • April 20-26, 2006 

Music Magnified

Time and Again Barelas

An opera of unending ardor debuts

“The Kiss, including the Atomic Foot Stompers, the Curse and the Rhythm of the City" by Santiago Perez/New Mexico Symphony Orchestra
“The Kiss, including the Atomic Foot Stompers, the Curse and the Rhythm of the City" by Santiago Perez/New Mexico Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, April 20, at the Roy Disney Center for the Performing Arts in the NHCC; Friday, April 21, and Saturday, April 22, at Popejoy Hall: It's a love story that lasts five centuries. But don't pitch it that way if you're trying to get friends to go see it with you.

Miguel del Aguila's opera Time and Again Barelas, commissioned to celebrate the city's 300th birthday, blends the fantastic with the historic, using the changing backdrop of one of Albuquerque's oldest neighborhoods. Hailing initially from Uruguay but more recently from California, Aguila faced the challenge of writing a piece to honor Barelas and its somewhat flexible tales of years past.

The opera begins with a real event—the murder of Don Barelas in 1680. His daughter, Marcelina, is the tale's heroine, alongside her love, Don Ignacio--who, it turns out, killed her dad.

A curse dooms them to live forever, and, according to Aguila's writing on meetthecomposer.org, the neighborhood's tumultuous history becomes a part of Marcelina and Ignacio's relationship as it moves over 300 years of past and 200 years into the future. Aguila was not interested in writing an “incidental” work when the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra called him in 2004. Instead, he felt the seeds of a dramatic work with wider appeal forming. That is, perhaps, what the 500-year love tale sprouted from.

Aguila promises Latin music in a general sense, not specific to any time period or area. “I set out to compose Latin music that is not just colorful, rhythmic, sensuous or happy,” he writes, “but music that portrays the entire scope of human emotions from one extreme to the other.”

Tickets are available online at www.nmso.org or by calling 881-8999.