La Reina is an electro-acoustic opera with text in Spanish and English. Drawing its narrative from the drug trade in Mexico and the United States, the opera is inspired by some of the most vivid real life players in this increasingly violent war from the past and present. Composer Jorge Sosa’s music blends classically trained voices with a chamber orchestra of acoustic and electronic forces, and powerfully conveys a gripping libretto by Laura Sosa Pedroza and Jorge Sosa.
The orchestral concert, featuring mezzo soprano Audrey Babcock as La Reina, is co-presented as part of American Lyric Theater’s InsighALT series, which features operas at various stages of development in the Composer Librettist Development Program. The concert is the culminating event of an extensive orchestral workshop, and will conclude with a detailed process-based discussion with the composer and librettist, moderated by Lawrence Edelson.
Composer: Jorge Sosa
Librettist: Laura Sosa Pedroza & Jorge Sosa
Conductor: David Alan Miller
Regina – Audrey Babcock
La Santa Muerte — Laura Claycomb
El Gringo – Christopher Burchett
Young Regina – Rosa Betancourt
El Pozolero – Javier Abreu
El Señor del Norte – Zachary James
Jefe de Sicarios / DEA Agent / Priest — Jonathan Blalock
Don Neto / Warden — Jeremy Milner
El Gobernador — Omar Najmi
La Reina has received developmental support through the Composer Librettist Development Program at American Lyric Theater, lead funding for which has been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and OPERA America/The Opera Fund.
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater, Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director
Co-presented with the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)
Photo by Raúl Cano
Show run time:120 minutes
Post-Performance Conversation will follow the January 17 show.
Jorge Sosa is a Mexican-born composer currently residing in New York. He is thrilled to be back as resident composer with the NYU New Music Ensemble for this season. Jorge’s first full-length opera, La Reina, commissioned by the American Lyric Theater (ALT), was selected for the Fort Worth Opera 2015 Frontiers Festival. La Reina was performed in a concert version during ALT’s Insight Festival in 2013. In 2014 Jorge’s works Enchantment and Stray Birds for chamber ensemble and live electronics were premiered at the Difrazzione festival in Florence. Enchantment will be included in Esther Lameneck’s upcoming CD in 2015. In 2014 Jorge’s operatic setting of Man Ray’s film L’Etoile de Mer was premiered in Kansas City by the Black House Collective, receiving critical acclaim. The legendary clarinetist David Krakauer and pianist Kathy Tagg premiered Jorge’s Psalm of David in 2013 at The Stone in New York City. In 2012, Jorge was commissioned to write “Song of the Last Crossing”, which was included in the OPERA America Songbook. His Trés Sonetos de Quevedo for soprano and guitar quartet were recently released by the Cuarteto de Guitarras de la Ciudad de México in their CD “A Cinco” and were selected to be performed at the “Foro de Música Nueva Manuel Enriquez in Mexico City, 2015. Jorge’s Refraction I was included in the CD “Quirk” by clarinetist Mauricio Salguero. His CDs “Plastic Time” and “Enceladus” are available on all the major music download sites and through the website www.jorgesosa.com. Jorge is currently Assistant Professor of music at Molloy College in Long Island.
Laura Sosa Pedroza is a bilingual Mexican screenwriter who has worked primarily in film and television. She is co-writer of En el país de no pasa nada, selected as the winner of the Best Movie category by the OCIC jury in Guadalajara’s Film Festival in 2000. She has participated in numerous TV shows as co-writer, including Todo por amor (TV Azteca-Argos, 2000); Momento de decision (Series TV Azteca-Argos, 1999); Ladrón de corazones (Telemundo-Argos, 2003); Corazón partido (Telemundo-Argos, 2005); Zapata, amor en rebeldía (Telemundo-Argos, 2006); Mientras haya vida (Azteca-Argos, 2007); Vivir sin ti (TV Azteca-Argos, 2008); Secretos del alma (TV Azteca, 2009); Las Aparicio (Cadena Tres-Argos, 2010); El sexo débil (Cadena Tres-Argos, 2011). She was head writer for Gitanas, a soap opera awarded best adaptation by the international FyMT in 2004, and was the story producer of the first season of Capadocia (HBO-Argos), which was nominated for best drama series in 2009 at the International Emmy Awards. She is also the author of several episodes of Capadocia on the first, second and third seasons. In the last two years, she has participated in several TV shows for Telemundo, as En otra piel as head writer and as librettist in El señor de los Cielos first season, which has been awarded as Non-English Language US Primetime Program at the International Emmy Awards. Laura is currently working on the libretto for her first opera, La Reina, with composer Jorge Sosa.
More than 111,000 people have died in Mexico during the last eight years as a result of the violence fueled by the war against drugs. Conservative estimates suggest that more than 23,000 people have disappeared in Mexico in the last two years. Most of these murders and abductions go unreported and are rarely prosecuted. In this era of constant surveillance, GPS systems, satellite imaging, camera-phones and obsessive documentation of daily life, how can a person vanish without a trace? Organized crime operates with impunity and often in conjunction with local, state, and the federal governments. This is a humanitarian crisis that the world refuses to acknowledge. This is a war that has no ideology, no opposing armies, no nationalistic fervor, only human tragedy and desolation.
We are not naïve, thinking that our work will have a significant impact, that it will change the climate of violence, that it could spark positive social change. Instead we hope that we can connect with individuals through the music and the story. We hope that the piece will resonate with people because it reflects real life. At the heart, La Reina is a story of love and betrayal, framed by an international violent conflict. We hope that you will cry, and laugh with us and find a moment of catharsis with this piece. And we hope that if you have experienced violence, or if you are affected by violence, that the music will help you heal as it has helped us by creating it.
-Jorge Sosa, Composer
The world of drug trafficking in Mexico was historically reserved for men. In recent years, however, we more frequently hear stories in the news of women who are involved in organized crime: as traffickers, kidnapers, murderers or even as leaders of drug cartels. Perhaps because we are a conservative society or because we cannot stop associating women with concepts such as maternal nurturing, tenderness, and helplessness, stories of female criminals tend to have a stronger impact on public opinion. It is unavoidable to ask: what drives a woman to become part of a world marked by extreme violence, revenge, and executions?
As a screenwriter for the HBO Latino’s Emmy nominated series Capadocia, which deals with stories of women who have been imprisoned, one of the most interesting parts of my work has been to explore the causes, the context, and the motivations that led women to commit a crime. The possibility to continue to explore these motivations in the context of opera is very attractive to me. Even more so, in these times of extreme crisis and the violence that threaten our country, I consider it a personal obligation to write this piece, to tell the world how much we have suffered in Mexico this last nine years because of this extreme violence.
-Laura Sosa Pedroza, Librettist