El último sueño de Frida y Diego

The Conrad Prebys Foundation
Fall Season Sponsor

Karl and Greet Hostetler
Commission and Production Sponsor

Gabriela Lena Frank – Composer

Nilo Cruz – Librettist

San Diego Civic Theatre
1100 Third Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Saturday, October 29, 2022 at 7:30 pm

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 at 7:30 pm

Friday, November 4, 2022 at 7:30 pm

Sunday, November 6, 2022 at 2:00 pm

Subscriptions and Single Tickets On Sale Now!

El Festival de Frida y Diego
(The Festival of Frida and Diego)

We are honored to present the world premiere of this beautiful opera.

The 2022-2023 season begins with great fanfare with the world premiere of El último sueño de Frida y Diego (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego) by Grammy Award–winning composer Gabriela Lena Frank and Pulitzer Prize–winning librettist Nilo Cruz. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have inspired generations of artists and this new opera explores the relationship between these two great Mexican visionaries.

During the celebration of Día de muertos (Day of the Dead), surrounded by candles and the fragrance of marigolds, the great muralist Diego Rivera longs to see his deceased wife Frida Kahlo once more. Catrina, the keeper of the souls, approaches Frida in the afterlife, and explains that Diego desperately needs his beloved wife as the end of his life approaches. For only 24 hours, Frida and Diego will relive their tumultuous love through their paintings and embrace the passion they shared.

Featuring an international cast of stars including mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz as Frida, baritone Alfredo Daza as Diego, soprano Maria Katzarava as Catrina, and countertenor Key’mon Murrah as Leonardo. Directed by Lorena Maza and conducted by Roberto Kalb.

This opera is a co-commission with San Francisco Opera, Fort Worth Opera, DePauw University School of Music, and with support from The University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts. Co-production with San Francisco Opera.

LANGUAGE – Sung in Spanish with English/Spanish text projected above the stage

RUN TIME – 2 hours, including one 20-minute intermission

Pre-Opera Lecture

The pre-opera lecture begins at 6:40 pm before the 7:30 pm evening performances. The Sunday matinee pre-opera lecture begins at 1:10 pm before the 2:00 pm curtain.

Mainstage Post-Opera Talk-Back

Stay after the performance for a Talk-Back. Once the curtain falls, there will be a 10-minute break, then join us in the front of the Dress Circle section where you can ask questions of the stars and cast (subject to availability), and find out what really happened onstage and backstage during the performance!

SD Opera Safety Protocols

Meet The Cast

Cast Guadalupe Paz

Guadalupe Paz
Frida

Cast Alfredo Daza

Alfredo Daza
Diego

Cast Maria Katzarava

Maria Katzarava
Catrina

Cast Keymon Murrah

Key'mon Murrah
Leonardo

Cast Robert Kalib

Roberto Kalb
Conductor

Cast Lorena Maza

Lorena Maza
Director

Cast Gabriela Lena Frank

Gabriela Lena Frank
Composer

Cast Nilo Cruz

Nilo Cruz
Librettist

Synopsis In English

Act I
A chorus of villagers gathers to await their departed loved ones on the day of the dead—they summon them by name and memory. An infirm Diego Rivera appears quietly among them, but stays apart. Villagers notice him and a few, on a dare, speak to him. They joke affectionately about the ritual, explaining that “it’s the faith in your soul” that brings back the dead, and wish him well. Diego summons up the courage to speak to Frida; he sings an aria (“come back to me”) revealing his fears and loneliness, and collapses to the ground. He confesses that he would like to accept God, and begs Frida to come “since you have never returned.” Villagers help Diego up; an old woman tries to sell him flowers. He makes a joke of it, to save his dignity, but disconcerted by her, he exits. She reveals her true identity as Catrina, Keeper of the Dead.

Catrina asks for the Lord’s mercy on Diego Rivera, and summons Frida Kahlo. Frida ascends from below, dressed plainly (not as “Frida Kahlo”), and demands to know what Catrina wants of her. She bristles at the suggestion that Diego is calling her, and tries to send Catrina packing. Catrina charges Frida with accompanying her dying husband on his journey to the underworld. This stops Frida cold.

Frida sings an aria (“The World”) about having found release in death—release from her mercurial relationship with Diego, and blessed release from agonizing pain. “Why go back to the world?” Catrina tries to persuade Frida that Diego is lost without her, but Frida challenges her, preferring her refuge of darkness and silence. Finally, Catrina implores Frida to be “an angel to Diego,” but Frida’s retort: “In my life he was a demon.”

A caravan of Departed Souls enters with bundles of fabric and clothing as they prepare for their return. They try to tempt Frida with their wares, but she declines. Catrina catches a young man trying to sneak back to the world dressed as a woman and chases him off.

Meanwhile, Frida notices a young actor, Leonardo, practicing his impression of Greta Garbo. He wants to go back as Garbo, to please a Garbo fan who waits every year for his idol. “I do it to go back to the world,” Leonardo tells Frida. “To be an actor once again.” Frida wavers for a moment, but stops herself.

Leonardo seduces Frida with the possibility of painting “a new Frida,” one “without pain, without anguish.” He dresses her up in her trademark clothes, adorning her hair with ribbons and flowers, appealing to her vanity and the pleasure she took in her art. Catrina returns, calling out the names of those who have been summoned, and readying them for departure. She calls on Frida, who continues to demur. Catrina notices Leonardo in his Garbo costume, forbidding his ruse, but Frida pleads for him, and Catrina relents.

As Catrina prepares to usher the departed out, Frida hesitates. Leonardo keeps trying to persuade her, but she says “What’s the use of going back?” At the last minute, Frida calls out to Catrina and says she wants to go back. Catrina allows it, but not before laying out the rules: 24 hours only, and no touching: “A caress can cost you the memory of pain.” As Frida walks toward the path of light, she sings “I’m coming back to you, my art.”

Act II
Diego is on a scaffold adjacent to a canvas. The canvas becomes transparent; the painting seems to come to life as the figures sing to Diego, defying his artistic abilities, expressing his decline in life, the world of politics and art. The canvas becomes opaque again, Diego wants his colors to embrace his mortality and take him to the underworld, but Diego senses Frida, and sings “Show me your Face”. As she rises from the ground, Diego says “Frida.” Her response: “Here I am, Diego. I told myself I would never come back but here I am. Diego rushes to embrace her, but she stops him. Diego thinks he is dreaming her. But she goes on to assert that she’s not a dream: “You’re not dreaming me. I am the dead painter.”

The canvas flies out as: Frida and Diego find themselves in Alameda Park, among the living and the departed souls strolling together (“To Return”). Diego is focused on Frida, and Frida on the vibrant life around her. He once again tries to embrace her, but “there are rules,” she tells him. They continue to stroll, interacting companionably with vendors. Diego keeps pressing for intimacy with Frida, which she keeps avoiding (partly because of the rules, but partly because she doesn’t want to get caught up again in the vortex of their relationship). Finally, they have this blunt exchange:

Diego: Is it you, Frida?
Frida: What is left of me.
Diego: Much is left.
Frida: Yes, all the hurt that I painted/instead of killing you
Diego: You should have killed me.
Frida: Then I would’ve had/to kill myself afterwards.

A beggar woman interrupts them, and her plea brings them out of themselves and reminds them of the wider world—particularly its injustices, which is a deep bond between them. They sing a duet (Tenochtlitán), which is not a love duet, but a hymn to the city and its broken, beautiful past. The beggar woman turns out to be Catrina. Diego notices the presence of death in her, and he is reminded of his own mortality.

Frida finds Leonardo among the people strolling in the park. He tells her he has visited Greta Garbo’s fan and has fulfilled his fantasy of meeting the movie star. Diego approaches Frida and says “Let us go home.” Diego and the chorus sing “Close your eyes” as they lead Frida back to her beloved home, which magically assembles around them. Diego invites Frida to sit beside him, but she is drawn to her easel.

Frida sings “Hand me my brush,” about wanting to return to painting, as Diego looks on. He begs her to embrace him, but she tells him she can’t. The two end with, “We made fun of love, to love one another freely.” Frida looks at him, scrutinizes his clothes, his face, his hands. Suddenly she hugs him. Frida is instantly racked by pain, and the moment becomes almost psychedelic, “The Memory of Pain”. Diego invites her to paint with him, and three Fridas appear (like her own painted images), beckoning her into the canvas. Diego and Frida enter the picture frame, creating their own alternate reality.

Frida and Diego try to cling to their impossible dream of staying together inside a painting even as the chorus of departed souls sings of the end of the Day of the Dead and prepares to return to the underworld. Catrina begins marshalling the souls, and Leonardo bids a final farewell to the world. Catrina angrily notices Frida’s absence, but keeps her procession moving.

Left alone, Frida realizes that she and Diego cannot live in a dream of art—that their art was always a response to the world. Diego is ready to die at this moment—is he about to lose Frida to Catrina. He is ready to take his chances of being with Frida in the underworld. He calls out to the God of Mictlan (God of the underworld). Catrina re-appears. “Who calls?” Diego tells her his time has come. Catrina reminds him that it’s not up to him, but Frida begs her to help him.

Catrina and Frida sing Diego toward death (“Close your Eyes”). When she senses that Diego is ready, Catrina calls out to the god of Mictlan, and Diego succumbs to his mortality.

As Frida sings that she and Diego will be united for eternity, the set opens up to reveal an Aztec pyramid and the God of Mictlan. The chorus sings of his deliverance, of the evergreen power of his paintings, and Frida and Diego whisper their names to one another, as they are united in the underworld.

Sinopsis en Español

1 Acto
Un coro de aldeanos está reunido el Día de Muertos esperando a sus amados difuntos – los llaman por su nombre y por sus recuerdos. Un Diego Rivera débil aparece silenciosamente entre ellos, pero se mantiene a distancia. Los aldeanos lo ven y algunos se retan a hablarle. Bromean afectuosamente acerca del ritual, explicándole que “es la fe en tu alma” la cual permite que regresen los muertos y le desean que este bien. Diego se arma de valor para hablar con Frida; canta una aria (regresa a mi) revelando sus miedos y su soledad y se desploma al piso. Confiesa que quisiera aceptar a Dios, y le suplica a Frida que venga “ya que jamás has regresado”. Los aldeanos lo ayudan a levantarse; una anciana trata de venderle flores. El hace bromas para salvaguardar su dignidad, pero desconcertado por la mujer, se va. La anciana revela su verdadera identidad como la Catrina, Guardian de Los Muertos.

La Catrina ruega al Señor que tenga piedad de Diego Rivera y llama a Frida Kahlo. Frida asciende desde abajo, vestida sencillamente (no como Frida Kahlo), y le exige a la Catrina que le diga lo que quiere de ella. Ella se enfurece cuando sabe que Diego la está llamado y trata de echar afuera a la Catrina. La Catrina le pide a Frida que acompañe a su moribundo esposo en su viaje hacia el inframundo. Esto deja a Frida helada.

Frida canta una aria (El Mundo) donde ha encontrado la liberación en la muerte – liberación de la volátil relación con Diego, y una bendita liberación del agonizante dolor. ¿“Por qué regresar al mundo”? La Catrina trata de persuadir a Frida diciéndole que Diego está perdido sin ella, pero Frida la desafía, prefiriendo su refugio de obscuridad y silencio. Finalmente, la Catrina le implora a Frida que sea un “ángel para Diego” pero Frida argumenta: “en mi vida él fue un demonio”.

Una caravana de Almas Difuntas entra con bultos de ropa y tela mientras se preparan para regresar. Tratan de seducir a Frida con sus objetos, pero ella los rechaza. La Catrina se da cuenta de que un joven trata de regresar a hurtadillas al mundo vestido de mujer y lo echa.

Mientras tanto, Frida ve a un joven actor, Leonardo, practicando su personificación de Greta Garbo. A él le gustaría regresar como Garbo, para complacer a un fan de Garbo que espera cada año a su ídolo. “Lo hago para regresar al mundo”, Leonardo le dice a Frida. “Para ser un actor una vez más”. Frida duda por un momento, pero se detiene.

Leonardo seduce a Frida con la posibilidad de pintar a “una nueva Frida”, una “sin dolor, sin angustia”. La viste en su ropaje característico, adornando su pelo con listones y flores, recurriendo a su vanidad y el placer que tenía por su arte. La Catrina regresa gritando los nombres de aquellos que han sido llamados y los prepara para su partida. Le llama a Frida quien continúa objetando. La Catrina ve a Leonardo con su disfraz de Garbo, prohibiéndole su treta, pero Frida aboga por él, y la Catrina cede.

Cuando la Catrina se prepara para encaminar a los difuntos fuera del mundo, Frida duda. Leonardo continúa tratando de persuadirla, pero ella le dice, ¿“de qué sirve que regrese”? En el último momento Frida le habla a la Catrina y le dice que quiere regresar. La Catrina lo permite, pero no sin antes establecer las reglas: solamente por 24 horas, y no puede tocar a nadie. “Una caricia puede costarte el recuerdo del dolor”. Mientras Frida camina hacia el camino de la luz, canta “Regreso a ti, mi arte”.

2 Acto
Diego está en un andamio junto a un lienzo. El lienzo se vuelve transparente; la pintura cobra vida en tanto que las figuras le cantan a Diego, desafiando sus habilidades artísticas, expresando su deterioro en la vida, el mundo de la política y el arte. El lienzo se vuelve opaco de nuevo, Diego quiere que sus colores acojan su inmortalidad y lo lleven al inframundo, pero Diego presiente a Frida, y canta: “muéstrame tu cara”. Cuando ella surge de la tierra, Diego dice “Frida”. Su respuesta es: “Aquí estoy Diego. Me había prometido nunca regresar, pero heme aquí”. Diego corre a abrazarla, pero ella lo detiene. Diego piensa que la está soñando. Pero ella continúa aseverando que no es un sueño: “No me estás soñando. Soy la pintora muerta”.

El lienzo vuela hacia fuera al mismo momento que: Frida y Diego se encuentran en el Parque de la Alameda entre los vivos y las almas de los difuntos todos juntos caminando (“Regresar”). Diego enfoca su atención en Frida y Frida en la dinámica vida a su alrededor. Una vez más trata de abrazarla, pero “hay reglas” ella le dice. Ellos continúan paseándose e interactuando afablemente con los vendedores. Diego continúa presionando para tener un acercamiento intimo con Frida, el cual ella sigue evitando (en parte por las reglas, pero también porque no quiere caer otra vez en el torbellino de su relación). Finalmente, tienen este franco dialogo:

Diego: ¿Eres tú Frida?
Frida: Lo que queda de mí.
Diego: Todavía hay mucho.
Frida: Si, todo el dolor que pinté en vez de matarte
Diego: Deberías haberme matado.
Frida: Entonces hubiera tenido que matarme después.
Una limosnera los interrumpe y sus suplicas los saca de ellos mismo y les recuerda el extenso mundo – particularmente sus injusticias, lo cual es algo que los une profundamente. Cantan un dueto (Tenochtitlán), el cual no es un dueto amoroso, pero un himno a la ciudad y su roto y hermoso pasado. La limosnera no es otra que la Catrina. Diego nota la presencia de la muerte en ella, y el recuerda su propia mortalidad.

Frida encuentra a Leonardo entre la gente que se pasea en el parque. Él le dice que ha visitado al fan de Greta Garbo y que ha cumplido con su fantasía de conocer a la artista de cine. Diego se acerca a Frida y le dice: “vámonos a casa”. Diego y el coro cantan “cierra tus ojos” mientras guían a Frida de regreso a su amada casa, la cual mágicamente se arma a su alrededor. Diego invita a Frida a que se siente cerca de él, pero ella es atraída por su caballete.

Frida canta “pásame mi pincel”, queriendo regresar a pintar, mientras Diego la mira. El le suplica que lo abrace, pero ella le dice que no puede. Los dos terminan con, “nos burlamos del amor, amándonos uno a otro libremente”. Frida lo ve escudriñando su ropa, su cara, sus manos. De repente ella lo abraza. Frida inmediatamente se dobla del dolor, y el momento se vuelve casi psicodélico, “el recuerdo del dolor”. Diego la invita a pintar con él y tres Fridas aparecen (como su propia imagen pintada), atrayéndola hacia el lienzo. Diego y Frida penetran en el marco del cuadro, creando su propia realidad alterna.

Frida y Diego tratan de aferrarse a su sueño imposible de quedarse juntos dentro de una pintura al mismo tiempo que el coro de almas de los difuntos canta acerca del final del Dia de los Muertos y se preparan para regresar al inframundo.
La Catrina empieza a reunir a las almas, y Leonardo ofrece su último adiós al mundo. La Catrina enfurecida nota la ausencia de Frida, pero continúa avanzando a su procesión.

Ya sola, Frida se da cuenta que ella y Diego no pueden vivir en un sueño de arte—que su arte siempre fue una respuesta al mundo. Diego está listo para morir en este momento –está a punto de perder a Frida con la Catrina. Está listo para probar su suerte y estar con Frida en el inframundo. El apela al Dios Mictlān (El Dios del Inframundo). La Catrina reaparece. “¿Quién llama?” Diego le dice que su momento ha llegado.

La Catrina y Frida van cantándole a Diego hacía la muerte (Cierra tus ojos). Cuando siente que Diego está listo, La Catrina le habla al Dios Mictlān y Diego sucumbe a su mortalidad.

Mientras Frida canta que Diego y ella estarán unidos hasta la eternidad, el escenario se abre para mostrar una pirámide azteca y al Dios Mictlān. El coro canta su salvación, por el perenne poder de sus pinturas, y Frida y Diego murmuran el uno a otro sus nombres, a la vez que se encuentran unidos en el inframundo.

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