Originally a short novel written in 1927 by poet and anthropologist Jaime de Angulo, The Lariat offers the hallucinatory story of a Spanish friar who comes to California to convert the stalwart Esselen Indians. The Franciscan's only petitioner is the beautiful ex-wife of a medicine man, but that is more than enough for Fray Luis. But when the charms of a Mestizo cowboy become more alluring than the foreigner's new god, jealousy, magic, and scourges pour through Big Sur, leaving enough death in their wake to fuel an opera — which is exactly what The Lariat has become. Created in collaboration with the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation of Monterey County, Lisa Scola Prosek's libretto includes intimate, true-to-life details from 18th century Esselen people, and will be partly sung in their native tongue, a language considered extinct until the tribe purposefully revived it. This production, commissioned by San Francisco International Arts Festival and performed by New York's Center for Contemporary Opera, will have its fully-staged premiere on traditional Esselen homeland prior to next year's SFIAF. Tonight's atelier rendition is minimally staged, with piano accompaniment.
Sat., June 21, 7 p.m., 2014