HATUEY: MEMORY OF FIRE
is a soaring Cuban-Yiddish opera, a love story set in a Havana nightclub in 1931. Oscar, a young Jewish writer who escaped the pogroms in the Ukraine to make a new home in Cuba, falls in love with Tinima, a beautiful singer and passionate revolutionary of Taino descent. As Oscar pens an epic poem about Cuba’s legendary 16th century freedom fighter, Hatuey, Tinima draws him into her fight against the corrupt Machado regime. This vibrant fusion of Afro-Cuban and Yiddish music and culture is also a powerful celebration of freedom performed in English, Yiddish, and Spanish with English supertitles. (An earlier version of the show was produced in March 2017 in Havana by Ulises Aquino and Opera de la Calle. http://www.elisethoron.com/hatuey.html )
In real life, Oscar was Asher Penn. According to , “In 1931, Yiddish poet, journalist and editor Ascher Penn published , a 126-page epic poem about a Taíno chieftain who fought against the Spanish invasion of Cuba at the beginning of the 16th century, and who was eventually burned at the stake in 1512. Born in 1912 in Ukraine, Penn immigrated with his parents to Cuba in 1924 following a pogrom in his native shtetl of Gaysin. In , Penn drew on the experience of the pogrom to describe the massacre of Taíno natives by the Spanish, and expressed his admiration for Taíno history and culture. … Indeed, the poem reverberates with sympathy for the Taíno, whose plight Penn understood only too well.”
In , a young Jewish man escapes pogroms and lands in Havana. He falls in love with a Cuban cabaret chanteuse with a fierce anti-colonial temper. Shattered by the memory of the gruesome attacks in his home village, Oscar identifies her cry for freedom as his own. She tells him of Hatuey, a Taino warrior of the early 16th century who challenged the Spanish conquistadors in Cuba. Hatuey lost his life in a fireball bound to a stake. When his persecutor asked whether he would go to heaven or hell, Hatuey asked, ‘Where will you be?’ ‘I will be in heaven,’ said the conquistador. ‘Then I will go to hell,’ declared Hatuey, forever memorializing his tragic fate. The real Oscar, Asher Penn, wrote an epic poem about to honor Cuba, his new home. That poem inspired this new opera-theater work. Written by Elise Thoron with music by Frank London, is performed by Cuban, Honduran, Greek, Jewish, and Dominican Americans in Yiddish, Spanish, and English with Afro-Cuban beat.
Montclair State University
Saturday, September 22 @ 8:00 pm (includes post performance talk by Ulises Aquino, director of Opera de la Calle)
Sunday, September 23 @ 3:00 pm (Ulises Aquino will also attend)
Montclair State University is 12 miles from NY and can be reached by public transit. https://www.montclair.edu/about-montclair/directions/
Bus options from Manhattan for the final matinee performance
- Board : Bus No 197 toward RINGWOOD PARK/RIDE
- Arrive : WILLOWBROOK MALL SHOPPERS STOP at 1:02 PM
- Depart : WILLOWBROOK MALL SHOPPERS STOP at 1:08 PM
- Board : Bus No 28 toward NWRK PENN STA MONTCLAIR ST_U-Exact Fare
- Arrive : NORMAL AVE AT UPPER MOUNTAIN AVE at 1:24 PM
- Walk 0.46 mile N to Montclair State University
- BUS #66Â WESTBOUND FROM NEW YORK to Montclair, catch the 1:30pm #66 bus from Port Authority and let the Bus driver know you'd like to get off as close to Montclair State University as possible, which will be the corner of Mount Hebron and Valley Road (there is a little Methodist church on the corner) you should arrive there by 1:50 or 2:00pm. Take a left and walk toward the campus, cross the street and proceed up a small hill onto campus (10 - 15 minute walk) we are the third to fourth building on your left above the Red Hawk Parking deck.