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Bless Me, Ultima - A Resounding Success!

May 08, 2018

Héctor Armienta’s new Mexican-American opera Bless Me, Ultima received its West Coast premiere April 20-22 at the Mexican Heritage Theater in San Jose. It was an amazing experience to see the renowned novel by Rudolfo Anaya come to life on the stage!

Audiences from many locations and communities gathered for Armienta’s new opera, which is based on the novel of the same name and developed in consultation with the author, Rudolfo Anaya. Bilingual supertitles were provided throughout the opera to make it accessible for both English and Spanish speakers.

From start to finish, audiences were enthralled by the story. Stellar performances by the singers made the dramatic storyline even more captivating. Featured singers included mezzo-soprano star Suzanna Guzman as Ultima, 14-year-old Nicholas McKee as Antonio, Roberto Perlas Gomez as Tenorio, Alexandra Sessler as Maria Marez, Andrew Metzger as Gabriel Marez, Michael Orlinsky as Narciso, Flora Mendoza The Owl, and Justin Cavazos as Pedro. The singers were supported by a talented orchestra of musicians, led by conductor Temirzhan Yerzhanov.

In addition to the role of The Owl sung by Mendoza, The Owl was also portrayed through a life-like puppet. The Owl represented Ultima’s soul, and the death of The Owl in Act III marked both the end of Ultima’s life and the end of the opera. The final scene closed with Ultima’s blessing to Antonio.

Watch the video below to see a slideshow of photos from the San Jose premiere of Bless Me, Ultima:

In addition to the premiere of the Bless Me, Ultima, Opera Cultura hosted a wide variety of free events in the community, leading up to the opera in April. The video below is a collection of photos from all of these great events!

  • February 2018: Youth writing workshops at MACLA in San Jose
  • February 21, 2018: Art class at The Hub, a resource center for foster youth in San Jose
  • March 2018: Forum Discussions at San Jose State University, Evergreen Valley College, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose
  • March 4, 2018: Preview performance of Bless Me, Ultima at the Santa Clara Central Park Library
  • April 4, 2018: Workshop for 2nd and 3rd grade students at Gardner Elementary School in San Jose

Bless Me, Ultima - In the Press

Bless Me, Ultima featured on KQED's The Do List:
CLICK HERE to read the article
CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast

Héctor Armienta (Composer/Librettist) and Tamara Alvarado (Exec. Director of the School of Arts & Culture @ MHP) speak with Damian Trujillo on his show Comunidad del Valle – NBC Bay Area's premier show highlighting the Latino community. 
CLICK HERE for Part 1
CLICK HERE for Part 2