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Arts and Culture Texas Nov. 2019 Issue

Arts and Culture Texas magazine is the official media sponsor of Fort Worth Opera.

On November 16, 2019, Fort Worth Opera will present FWO Artistic Director and composer Joe Illick and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell’s inspirational one-act children’s opera, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World, at the historic Rose Marine Theater.

Based upon the highly-acclaimed book by award-winning English author and illustrator, Laurence Anholt, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World follows the true-life story of Marianna Morillo Safa and her friendship with famed painter, Frida Kahlo. Part of the company’s ongoing, community-driven program, Noches de Ópera, a celebration of Latino culture, heritage, and artistry, this delightful new work teaches children about art, bravery, and the power of friendship.

The opera follows Mariana, a young girl living in the heart of Mexico City, whose home is full of beautiful artwork by Frida Kahlo. She is encouraged by her family to visit Kahlo and have her portrait painted by the renowned artist, but is terrified at the thought. There are rumors that Frida keeps skeletons above her bed and exotic pets in her Blue House. People have even said that she is a witch. As Kahlo begins to paint Mariana in her studio, this fear quickly disappears and a friendship blooms between the two. Mariana meets Frida’s husband, Diego Rivera, and learns of the horrible accident that almost killed her new friend. Through the magic of opera, Frida’s parrot, dog, and monkey all sing, and the audience is invited to join in on the fun as well.

"Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World is the third opera I’ve written with a story that involves a visual artist, but the first children’s opera that focuses on one. The narrative angle Laurence Anholt cleverly provided in his eponymous book—through Mariana Morillo Safa, a young girl who was the subject of one of Kahlo’s most famous portraits, allowed Joe and me not only to explore the workings of an artist at her height, but also the power of sororal friendships."

-Mark Campbell

Librettist, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World

“The idea for Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World came from General Director Tuomas Hiltunen. He suggested this acclaimed children’s book as a basis for a family opera, and when Mark and I saw that the story was about the universal reach of art and empowering young women, we were thrilled to bring it to life.”

-Joe Illick

Composer, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World



Fort Worth Opera’s 2020 Festival kicks off on April 17 with Puccini’s romantic masterpiece La Bohème and concludes

on May 3 with Revenge of the Bat (Die Fledermaus), Strauss‘s sparkling operetta, updated to the Roaring Twenties. Nestled between these two productions, the company will present the world premiere of Zorro on April 26, 28, and 30 at

the historic Ridglea Theater. Based on the pulp fiction novels of writer Johnston McCulley, this explosive new opera, led

by visionary stage director Octavio Cardenas, is filled with romance, danger, and suspense. Featuring one of pop culture’s most iconic, sword-wielding vigilantes, this swashbuckling adventure will thrill audiences of all ages!

The operatic action begins in Spain within the Mountain Fortress of the Order of Zarzueta. A scholarly student named Diego (stunning Mexican-born tenor César Delgado) trains to become a master swordsman and a skilled marksman. One fateful day, his enlightened

master carves a letter “Z” into his upper arm and sends him back to the place of his birth in Alta California. There it is said he will find his destiny and give the Order a new life.

Once he arrives in the New Spain, he encounters an old flame, the beguiling Carlotta (mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz), the passionate Ana Maria (soprano Gabriella Enríquez), the villainous Moncada (acclaimed Mexican baritone Óscar Velázquez), and a grave evil like none he has faced before. Donning a black mask to conceal his true identity, Zorro is born, and he wields his sharp sword to fight for justice and the oppressed.

“Though the character of Zorro is fictional, I’ve incorporated the political unrest that occurred in Spain, México, and Alta California during the early 19th century

as a direct result of Napoleon’s war in Europe. Musically, audiences will hear a variety of styles, including Mariachi,

Mexican corridos, a Flamenco bulería, but within a neoromantic operatic style. Finally, my goal is to create work that serves as a cultural bridge between communities and excites new audiences to the power of opera.”

-Héctor Armienta

Composer, Zorro

“I feel thrilled to give life to the role of Carlotta in the world premiere of Zorro. She is a wonderful character, a passionate, in-love and strong woman that I feel privileged to perform. I always loved the plot of Zorro. The atmosphere speaks lots about my heritage and I’m proud to represent a character so close to my roots”

-Guadalupe Paz

“Carlotta de Obragón” in Zorro


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