There is nothing so exciting as a five-star collaboration that you can see in person. Artistic Director Joaquín Encinias of Yjastros: The American Flamenco Repertory Company was commissioned by Orchestra of New Spain to choreograph a flamenco operetta in the form of an archetypal religious drama with Northern New Mexico flavor. His company will perform it at the National Hispanic Cultural Center this weekend.

“It is the Nativity story told from a shepherd’s perspective,” said Encinias. “Bartolo is the doubting shepherd who is always sleepy and likes to drink and never goes to worship the Christ child until the very end. I tied flamenco into his story.”

We think of liturgical drama as an Easter or Christmas play, not part of the church service but certainly an important adjunct to those holidays. “Quem quaeritis?” is the Latin for “Whom do you seek?,” the question asked of the Two Marys when they visited Christ’s tomb. It is equally a question for Christmas, when the Magi and the shepherds came to worship at the stable. The Latin “pastor” means “shepherd”; a pastorale is a musical play celebrating life in the countryside. Northern New Mexico has a deep tradition of religious pastorales. The collaboration and experience of Quem Quæritis? A Flamenco Drama is authenticated by the music of Orchestra of New Spain out of Dallas, playing the music of Old Spain in the New World with baroque-period instruments.

“The Baroque period in 16th-century Spain introduced the precursor to the flamenco guitar,” Encinias said. “It is all connected.” The Orchestra’s Artistic Director Grover Wilkins 3d came to visit Encinias and was charmed by the idea of pastorales, uniquely Baroque.

Encinias wrote the script together with Vicente Griego, a pre-eminent cantaor flamenco and the official singer of cante flamenco for the National Institute of Flamenco in Albuquerque, which Encinias also directs. “We are the speaking narrators but mainly tell the story through music and dance. Bartolo’s epiphany is instigated by art, not purely religion,” Encinias said. “A lot of audiences will appreciate and enjoy that.”

New choreography is by Encinias, Marco Flores and draws from other parts of the Yjastros repertory. Quem Quæritis? A Flamenco Drama has two acts with an intermission.

Fri., April 29 at 8pm; Sat., Apr. 30 at 2pm, National Hispanic Cultural Center. Tickets: $40-70, NMNHCC.org, 505.724.4771

See a brief video online at abq.news.