Friday, March 24, 2023

Opera Southwest Premieres "Zorro"

"It's Like a Comic Book Come to Life!"


Opera Southwest (OSW) and Fort Worth Opera have collaborated to commission a new opera, Zorro, about the Robin-Hood like folk hero, with music and libretto by Héctor Armienta. Armienta is the composer of Bless Me, Ultima, an opera commissioned by OSW and the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) that premiered here in 2018. Like Ultima, this world premiere is fully staged and orchestrated and represents five years of partnership between OSW and the NHCC. Zorro inaugurates OSW's 50th season of operatic performances.

"I've been walking out of rehearsals every night with a huge grin on my face. This opera is very exciting, the music is incredibly tuneful, the cast is just tremendous. It really is like a comic book come to life - in the best way possible," said OSW's Executive Director Tony Zancanella.

The main character, Don Diego de la Vega, is the scion of a wealthy Los Angeles family in Alta California, at that time a Spanish colony. He is an accomplished swordsman and goes to battle for the downtrodden against the Spanish governors and their emissaries. Throughout his story there is humor, romance and plenty of mischievous mayhem in store for the bad guys. "El Zorro" means "The Fox." The original story was based on "The Curse of Capistrano" by Johnston McCulley which kicked off a 65-book string of Zorro tales in 1919 set in the Pueblo de Los Angeles.

Zorro is portrayed by César Delgado, a Mexican-born tenor who has sung the role in concert at Fort Worth Opera. Lauded mezzo-soprano Stephanie Sanchez makes her OSW debut as Carlotta de Obragón, highborn daughter of the Governor. Cuban soprano Laura León sings the role of Ana Maria, Zorro's love interest. Her voice has been dubbed "bel canto personified."

Longtime Maestro Anthony Barrese conducts the Opera Southwest Orchestra. Stage Director Octavio Cardenas directs Zorro; for OSW he has directed Bless Me, Ultima, Sciarrino's Lohengrin and the tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires. Scenic Design is by Dahl Delu, retired production designer for Paramount Pictures and a former art director at Universal Pictures.

Just four performances: Sun. Oct. 23 at 2pm / Weds. Oct. 26 at 7:30pm / Fri. Oct. 28 at 7:30pm / Sun. Oct. 30 at 2 pm
Sung in English & Spanish with projected English and Spanish Translations
National Hispanic Cultural Center-Journal Theatre, 1701 4th St. SW
Tix: $22-$105. Available online at or at the Box Office: 505.724.4771
$5 tickets are also available for qualified low-income New Mexico residents through OSW's Opera For All initiative; info at


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