The Fort Worth Opera presented the world premiere of my opera Before Night Falls in their 2010 spring season. The production was directed by David Gately with stage design by Riccardo Hernandez, lighting by Harry Frehner, projections by Peter Negrini, costumes by Claudia Stephens and choreography by John de los Santos. Conducted by Joe Illick with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
World famous blogger OperaChic said Before Night Falls was one of five “must see” operas spring of 2010! See the article in Wmagazine. And Wes Mason, the young star singing the role of Reinaldo Arenas, is officially a barihunk!
And also the interview in Opera News by Adam Wasserman.
LISTEN here to “A Passion for Opera” on Vermont Public Radio, the program aired on August 20, devoted entirely to Before Night Falls and an interview with Jorge, with Peter Fox Smith.
Read the BLOG I wrote in 2010 telling how the opera came to be, and how it got to the stage!
PRESS AND REVIEWS
“[Before Night Falls] bursts with restless passion . . . The composer skillfully draws on numerous influences [with] the skill and individuality to synthesize these strands into a coherent and dramatically potent tapestry. Best of all, [Martín’s] melodies almost always blossom and sing . . . The aria for Rey’s Mother…has genuine lyric beauty . . . [BNF presents] a gripping tale of individual triumph over repressive brutality, vibrant, compelling characters [and] pulsing, illustrative music, the combination of which was more than enough for this listener and the wildly enthusiastic opening-night audience.” — Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News
“One likes to think…Reinaldo Arenas would have joined in the deserved standing ovation…[for this] vibrant, musically substantive, and very touching opera . . . surely one of the most admirable American opera of recent years . . . Martín’s alternation of different kinds of musical and dramatic material showed theatrical savvy. There are many striking scenes . . . it deserves to be seen widely . . . a full-blooded part of the operatic tradition, its orchestration varied and compelling.” — David Shengold, Gay City News, and Opera (U.K.)
“The final pages are kissed with such lyricism . . . The orchestration often has a beautiful sheen . . . I will tell you something extraordinary:…There are real, unabashed melodies and tunes. . . . I will give Before Night Falls two high accolades that may sound like faint praise: It holds interest; and I would like to see and hear it again. You cannot say that about just any work that makes a debut. . . . Before Night Falls may be the finest anti-revolutionary opera since The Dialogues of the Carmelites . . . It is brave, both in its libretto and in its score. . . . The opera is a worthy work of art. It treats a moving story movingly. And, for telling a truth too seldom told, it makes you grateful.” — Jay Nordlinger, National Review
“Martín’s triumphs as a composer are numerous, and I was particularly struck by the scenes where he seemed to say, ‘To hell with it, this is an opera and it’s going to behave like one.’ He gives us vivid arias and ensembles that function dramatically, that communicate musically. The [rebel camp scene], perfectly constructed, takes us from idealism and camaraderie to disillusionment and authoritarianism in only a few, hair-raising minutes. . . . [Martín] writes honestly, often passionately, and, in the end, persuasively. . . . [H]is achievement deserves my applause. Jorge Martín heard an opera in this story, and he made me hear it, too. That’s more than most other composers can say . . . Martín has created a vigorous stage animal, a gift box for singing actors.” — William V. Madison, Billevesées
Other reviews of the production: Fort Worth Weekly (Anthony Mariani), the Rutland Herald (Willie Docto), El Nuevo Herald (Daniel Fernández, in Spanish), D Magazine (Wayne Lee Gay), Theater Jones (Gregory Sullivan Isaacs),Rosebrook Classical (David Weuste), The Classical Beat (Anne Midgette)
REVIEWS OF THE RECORDING
“Martín has written a masterpiece filled with complex detail and I expect to hear even more each time I listen to it.” — Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, TheaterJones
“The libretto of Before Night Falls is…colloquial and unfailingly eloquent. . . . There are…many passages of great beauty in the score, not least in the first-act trio for Ovidio, Rey, and Pepe, ‘Oh, our unhappy island,’ and the Epilogue, Rey’s death scene. There is often an almost Mozartean grace in the ensemble writing, and Mr. Martín shares with Benjamin Britten the skill for making male voices, even when dominant within the aural landscape, individual and sharply characterized. The composer largely leaves musical evocations of Cuba in the orchestra, contrasting the often-complex dance rhythms with vocal lines that are both melodically appealing and conducive to pointed delivery of the text. Successful both musically and dramatically, Before Night Falls is among the sadly few genuine operas composed during the first decade of the new millennium that not only deserved a studio recording of its premiere production but also deserves a place in the repertories of the world’s important opera houses. . . . Mr. Martín has composed a wonderful opera that never preaches or wallows: it merely sings of what there is to be sung about a man who, like Tosca, suffered for art and for love. It also reminds the listener of how rare this is, to focus even in art on the integrity of a man’s life rather than the choices he made in living it. . . . Before Night Falls is an experience that will not soon be forgotten.” — Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts
“Before Night Falls [has a] splendid libretto. This is powerful music, even in its most tender moments, firmly based in tonality. . . .attractive and moving . . . an exemplary libretto, faithful to the spirit of Arenas’s work, retaining its dramatic moments which become, in the opera, unforgettable scenes. . . . Martín’s urgent energy becomes particularly affecting. . . . simple, but with talent, strength and conviction, and that goes straight to the heart!There is in this work, as there is in Sondheim, an acute sense of musical theater and dramatic timing. . . . This is an intelligent and indeed transformative opera, which can appeal to the broadest audience, and is more than ever timely.” — Marcel Quillévéré, orig. in French,forumopera.com