Opera de la Calle
After performing in Europe and the
US, Ulises Aquino returned to Cuba as a soloist in the National
Lyric Theater but wanted to go in a new direction. In April 2006 he launched a project called “Opera
de la Calle” and became its General Director. The company started working
without costumes and with just a keyboard accompaniment. They steadily improved with exposure to
audiences and the assistance of musical director Emilio Vega, chorus director
Natasha Prado and Ruben Rodriguez, dance director and choreographer. Opera toured Cuba,
seen by three million people, and then Colombia.
About The Performers
Opera de la Calle began with mostly amateur performers “from the street”, but now all of the people involved are professionals who receive a state salary. The show itself and the dinner theater El Cabildo are part of the non-state sector. On stage, there are roughly forty people, plus six musicians and four show directors as well as technicians, producers, costume designers, and others. There are about the same number of men and women. Although they rehearse according to Mr. Aquino’s directions, there is plenty of improvisation and people have their own interpretations of his guidance.
The concept of the show
Opera de la Calle is a little bit of everything. We have an enormous amount of different colors. It’s a little bit of African culture, a little bit of Spanish culture, and some American culture. In other words, it is a symbiosis. In some ways it is like a Broadway musical with a difference. Broadway is not like an opera; and there is always a storyline in Broadway. There is no beginning or end in Opera de la Calle, we pass from one thing to another, from African slaves to Spanish culture – that’s
We want to show Cuba
to the world.
I think that it changes a little bit how opera is seen worldwide. Opera is almost always in a theater, with an orchestra, with costumes like those from the 19th century, and the manners of the theater that are so different from our contemporary ways of expressing ourselves. We dance, and we sing like opera singers, and we have a beautiful band that sounds just like an orchestra.
The elements of a performance (constantly evolving so tonight may be different)
* musical opening.
* selection from Handel’s Messiah
* elegua singing, an African call
* the cabildo from “Maria la O”, a part from a zarzuela (a kind of Spanish operetta with singing and talking)
* a song from the Yoruba culture of
brought by slaves
Havana to Matanzas”, a rumba song
with a little salsa. The theme for this song is honoring the rumba musicians
who play in Cuba.
It’s a new song, but about the past.
* “When The Lights Go Out”, a very popular contemporary song by Frank Delgado
* “The Fantasy of Amalia Batista”, a zarzuela telling a very contemporary story with modern costumes of a girl who gets married to a successful Cuban.
* slave singing from “Cecilia Valdés”, a zarzuela by Cirilo Villaverde. The slave tells how he will never see his land, his wife, and his children again. His love, he says is far, far away. This starts a little rebellion where the slaves start to dance and protest against mistreatment.
Havana March” from “Cecilia Valdés”, about a
rich boy who has everything and is loved by the girls.
* “Regina Coeli” from the opera Cavalera Rusticana, a song to the Catholic Lord.
* “Bohemian Rhapsody” brought into a Cuban context through Africans and whites fighting over a girl who has been killed. It ends with a girl who earlier killed someone finding peace after being executed.
* Queen’s “Somebody to Love” about how people work and worry about all sorts of things in life, but just want to find somebody to love.
* “Imagine” by John Lennon, a peace song,
* “Zambra”, a Spanish song. A party with Spanish dance; a girl who wants to find a guy who loves her, a fight over a guy
*“Por Amor” (For Love), a Dominican song by Rafael Solano.
The Piano Bar
“Opera de la Calle” is performed on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Piano Bar is entertainment on other nights where members of the company show personal projects. There are different things going on all the time. For now, the Piano Bar is on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but it is planned for all week except Friday and Saturday and on Sunday which is a disco.
To reserve tickets for dinner and a performance, call (537) 207-6885
Teatro El Cabildo, Calle 4, numero 707, e/ 7 & 9
Opera de la Calle is on Facebook
In the US for more information or to obtain a DVD,