Life doesn't always imitate art, but it will get pretty close on Friday, October 14, when composer Nathan Felix presents his immersive opera experience at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA). Taking place in and around SAMA's Great Hall, the performance will weave amongst the audience, drawing them into the action.
La Malinche: Traitor | Savior is a one-act, 45-minute opera about an enslaved Indigenous girl who became Hernán Cortés’ interpreter and cultural translator. The linguistically gifted La Malinche played a key role in the transactions, negotiations, and conflicts between the Spanish and the Indigenous populations of Mexico.
Inspired by the museum's new exhibition, "Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche," Felix's opera explores contrasting themes portraying Malinche as both "the mother of Mexico" and as traitor. According to the museum's website, the narrative follows Malinche from slave to key tool for Cortés’ conquest of Tenochtitlan as "she forges a new path in her belief that a new Mestizo ethnicity is the inevitable future and her lasting impact."
The unique performance features Celeste Morales as La Malinche, Thomas Soto as Hernán Cortés, and sopranos Emily Anderson and Lucianna Astorga who play Aztec slaves. Other featured musicians include conductor Jonathan Martinez, violinist Oscar Dodier, violist Ptotia Furlow, cellist Stephen Young, and choral singers Steph Huskin, Laura Grindle, Kelly Vix-Miller and Christiana Davis.
According to a release, Mexican-American composer Nathan Felix is known for his guerilla-style approach in presenting classical music in unconventional spaces. His first large work was featured by the BBC and became an award-winning documentary The Curse & The Symphony, which screened at 52 film festivals across the world.
His new immersive opera will blur the line between audience and performers, utilizing space, movement, and the acoustics of the museum's Great Hall. The performance takes place from 7-9 pm on October 14, and tickets are available through samuseum.com.