Una Opera Muerta/Dead Opera: PNN reviews Imperial Silence: Una Opera Muerta/ A Mariachi Opera in Four Acts


POOR correspondent - Posted on 25 June 2010

iny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia/PNN- ReViewSFoRtheReVoLutioN
Saturday, November 15, 2008

The colores shimmered from their jackets... the glow of pinks y amarillos, golds and greens filled my mind as my ears and eyes wrapped around the son and the ritmo of the deep , rich sounds of mariachi that filled the stage of the Brava theatre at the opening of Imperial Silence: Una Opera Muerta/ A Mariachi Opera in Four Acts.

Una Opera Muerta, performed as part of Galeria De La Raza's Day of the Dead celebration and directed by John Jota Leanos in collaboration with Cristobal Martinez, Los Quatros Vientos and Sean Levon Nash is a mixed media, layered art production of radio, song, images, stage and dance. Perhaps all of those elements are the definition of classical opera, Im not sure, but it was one of the most beautiful and seamless pieces of performance art, culture and commentary, I have ever seen.

My five year old son Tiburcio, mi novio, Tony y yo were at home preparing the altar for my Mama Dee who passed in March of 2006 before we all arrived at the opening night of Imperial Silence at the Brava theatre. We all watched as the opening act began with a mariachi aria in full regalia. As we listened to the live music set to a children's nursery rhyme, Los ABCs QUE, an animated film took us on a tour through global and local poverty, the death of the desparacidos in Juarez, corporate destruction of NAFTA/CAFTA and the maquiladoras, global climate change, border fascism y mas. The animation was at once terrifying and hilarious, the characters resembled a dead version of Kenny and the crew from South Park. We were laughing and shaking our heads in disgusted agreement.

The next acts were intertwined with live dance pieces that combined Mexican folklorico and indigena symbology representing the duality of the experience of migrant peoples in life and death across the globe.

The third act, Radio Muerta, is a haunting radio piece heard and seen inside a car, the amazing lowrider car painted for this opera and presented at the Day of the Dead celebration at the Oakland Museum in 2007.

The fourth and final act includes a satire of corporate media with DNN/ Dead News Network and depicts, among other things, the thousand dead march.

As the last act closed with more breathtaking dancing and mariachi sounds, I remembered my Mama Dee's words, herself an amazing performance, visual and sound artist, who was honored in the radio scene of the opera, a good production of anything is marked by its ability to move you to not just tears but laughter. My mama dee's spirit was in the Brava theatre that noche de los muertos and she was muy contento.

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