Long Beach Opera production to examine the U.S.-Mexico border and the War on Drugs

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Long Beach Opera (LBO) will present Camelia La Tejana: Only the Truth on Sunday, March 24 at 2pm and Saturday, March 30 at 8pm at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Camelia La Tejana: Only the Truth is set along the US-Mexico border in the context of Mexico’s bloody Drug War. During this conflict, more than 60,000 people have already died.
“The US-Mexico border is a place where everything is a matter of life and death,” says Long Beach Opera’s artistic and general director Andreas Mitisek, “This reality is shaping our future and generates the passions and myths operas are made of. Opera has a unique way of magnifying life, of giving us an enhanced perspective of reality. If Verdi or Bizet where alive today, these are the themes they would be writing about. Camelia is happening in the present. It’s about today. It has the dramatic urgency of the now.”
With a score by Mexican female composer Gabriela Ortiz and a libretto by Mexican-born Rubén Ortiz Torres, the multimedia production uses vibrant music and graphic footage to illuminate the struggle along the U.S.-Mexican border. During the opera, truths and myths about this controversial dividing line are exposed.
Based on the famous corrido “Contrabando y Traicion (Smuggling and Betrayal),” the opera follows Camelia la Tejana and her lover, drug traffickers carrying marijuana from Mexico to Los Angeles until deceit by one leads to a deadly showdown.
Ortiz incorporates into her score the accordion and tuba, instruments traditionally used in Mexican norteño music. “The music has that flavor of the north, but more like a hybrid, and always through my lens,” she says.
Torres, internationally known for his video, photography and installation work, wrote the opera’s libretto and produced the graphic immersive videos that are projected onstage. Much of the footage was shot in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.
“I conceived this more than an opera, but as a contemporary art piece,” he said.
Participating in the production will be several members of the production team from its world premiere in Mexico City, including: Mario Espinosa, stage director; Angel Ancona, lighting designer; and Gloria Carrasco, set and costume designer. Mitisek will conduct.
Camelia La Tejana: Only the Truth had its beginnings in a November 2008 workshop at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The final version of the opera was given its world premiere on March 11, 2010 at the Festival de Mexico in Mexico City.
Ticket prices range from $29 to $160. Reduced prices are offered to subscribers and groups. Tickets can be purchased from the LBO Box Office at (562) 432-5934 and online at longbeachopera.org/tickets (For group tickets, call the box office.)

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