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Press Release: Pandemic Stories of Bay Area Farmworkers Told in New Animated Opera

October 22, 2020

Mi Camino graphic

San Jose, CA, Release: October 22, 2020. For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Tamara Liu, t.liu@operacultura.org, 408-471-7853
New song cycle opera Mi Camino will explore the pandemic stories of farmworkers and day laborers through real footage and animations

San Jose-based Opera Cultura is honing in on goals of technological advancement for the field of opera through the commission of a new work Mi Camino by composer and Artistic Director Héctor Armienta. Through a combination of real footage, the creation of virtual worlds, and animations (see example image below), the work will incorporate visually powerful moments to tell real stories of farmworkers and day laborers in the greater Bay Area. While 2020 has presented many challenges for performing arts organizations, Armienta sees opportunity:

The Virtual World of Mi Camino “This is a Year of Experimentation and Innovation for Opera Cultura. By telling the story of the
community through virtual worlds and Avatars, we are reimagining the world of opera and how we deliver ‘content’ to a wider audience.”—Héctor Armienta, composer

Mi Camino is Part II of a community-invigorated song cycle (La Frontera Project), created by composer and Artistic Director Héctor Armienta, focusing on stories of immigration. Mi Camino will explore the impact of COVID-19 on immigrants in Santa Clara County and the surrounding regions, particularly farmworkers and day laborers. Through song and multimedia, the story of how this community is being impacted by the pandemic will be told. Video interviews, photos, and writings from the community will serve as inspiration for the music, and will be incorporated into the performance of the work. Mi Camino will thus be a time capsule of our collective experience in this particular time in history, set to premiere online in spring 2021.

Héctor Armienta, a nationally-recognized Mexican-American composer, focuses on creating work that explores the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural experience. His awards and commissions include those from Fort Worth Opera, Opera Southwest, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts International, Opera Pacific, the Pacific Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and Western Stage Theater. His work for orchestra and theater has received support from three NEA grants in artistic excellence. Mr. Armienta holds a BM degree in composition from California Institute of the Arts and an MM degree in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. www.hectorarmienta.com

Our mission is to explore the Latinx-Hispanic cultural experience through music theater and opera, while providing opportunities for the community to participate as creators, learners, and performers. We accomplish this by presenting the work of composer Héctor Armienta and other Latinx composers, showcasing other artists, and training young people in the performing arts. By doing so, we create a cultural bridge between communities.

Our programming in the past has included presenting Latinx-Hispanic opera, collaborating with Latinx based arts organizations and other community organizations, and providing training for young people in the performing arts. While San Jose remains our artistic home, we have also presented and co-presented in New York, Washington D.C., and México. Notable performances include La LLorona, Rio de Mujéres, and Armienta's immigration song cycle opera Cuentos de Peregrinacíon. Cuentos has been performed in San Jose and in Guadalajara, México's Degollado Theater. Opera Cultura also initiated the Arte Sin Fronteras (Art Without Borders) Initiative, a cross-cultural exchange between San Jose, CA, and Guadalajara, México.

Applied Materials Foundation; California Arts Council; Castellano Family Foundation; Fleishhacker Foundation; The National Endowment for the Arts; The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Office of Cultural Affairs – City of San José, an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation; Silicon Valley Creates; Silicon Valley Strong of Silicon Valley Community Foundation; the Cultura Guild; and Friends of Opera Cultura.

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