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Cinthia Rodriguez
El Observador

On November 2 – 4, La Llorona (Weeping Woman) will make its San Jose premiere as part of the city-wide celebrations commemorating El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Performances will take stage at the Mexican Heritage Theater, School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza.

“It’s going to be a wonderful production,” said Hector Armienta, Artistic Director, Opera Cultural and creator of La Llorona.

The story of La Llorona is very well known in Latin America, but Armienta’s version was inspired by his grandmother Paula Lopez, her struggles and the sacrifices she made to support her family, most importantly her children. In his version, the river controls the faith of all characters. It is also part of a trilogy called Aguas Ancestrales (ancestral Waters). Although it is the second piece he wrote it is actually part one.

“What’s unique about the san Jose one is that they are involving middle and high school students from their conservatory program. About 5 of them will perform, 3-4 members of the Aztec dance company Calpulli Tonalequeh who will serve as members of the cast,” said Armienta.

La Llorona is a story of a young Xochitl Indian girl who serves the river in 19th century in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. She eventually meets a Mexican of Spanish descent, when she marries him the river becomes furious. The river destroys all of her kin and is determined to seek vengeance upon her. It puts things into place so that she will sacrifice her only daughter, Sara.
The first of the trilogy of operettas is Rio de Mujeres (River of Women), where Armienta brings to life his grandmother with the main character as Paula and was produced in San Francisco. Followed by La Llorona and being developed is the final part titled La Muerte (The Death).

“The other major theme is whether or not we are in control of our faith or are there other elements both natural, supernatural that control our destiny,” explained Armienta.

The trilogy pays homage to the struggles of women in the Armienta family as well as women in general.

“The audience can expect a lot of surprises. It’s not the story of la Llorona after she drowns her children, it is how La Llorona came to be,” said Armienta.

Last Saturday, the Bay Area cast members had their first run through in the theater. Everyone from the students, opera singers and the Aztec dancers were present to go from scene to scene.

Spectators can expect some scenic designs and wardrobes that incorporate the underworld and a sense of 19th century Mexico. Spanish speakers will have the opportunity to hear the stories they grew up with on stage. It is also a chance to expand the art form of opera.
“We’re very excited to bring La Llorona to San Jose,” said Armienta. “Our goal is to engage the community through opera and musical theater.”

This is the third production of La Llorona with the first being produced in 2008 and the second in January of this year. After its San Jose dates Opera Cultural hopes to take it back to New York and to other major cities in 2014.
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