"Frida", an opera about the life of the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, opens the Society for New Music's 38th season Sept. 11 and 12th at the Carrier Theater in downtown Syracuse. Frida channeled the pain of a crippling injury & her tempestuous marriage into creating a large body of work that now ranks her as one of the most important women artists of the 20th C. The composer, Robert X. Rodriguez, describes "Frida" as being 'in the Gershwin, Sondheim, Kurt Weill tradition dissolving barriers and extending the common ground between opera and musical theater.' Mr. Rodriguez will travel to Syracuse from his home in Texas for the final rehearsals and performances. The libretto is by Hilary Blecher and Migdalia Cruz. Both the Sept. 11 and 12 performances, presented in conjunction with the Spanish Action League, begin at 8 p.m.
The production boasts an outstanding cast of regional singers and dancers. The role of Frida will be sung by Gina Manziello, a Colgate alum who just earned her Masters at USC. Jonathan Michie, a recent Eastman graduate, will assume the role of Diego Rivera. Other leading roles will be sung by Laura Enslin, Bridget Moriarty, Jonathan Howell, Christopher Jackson, Eric Johnson, Nora Fleming, Lillian Choi, and Michael Chellis. Performing secondary roles as Zapatistas and schoolgirls are: Elizabeth Luttinger, Gleydis Merino, Jessica Varona, Adina Martin, Nikolas Jeleniauskas Allen, Diego Davidenko and Alex Graham. The Calaveras singers are Sangeetha Ekambaram, Robert Cowles and Emily Gibson, with Phi Tran joining their ranks as a dancing Calaveras.
Eric Johnson is the stage director, James Welsch the conductor, Barry Steele the lighting/projections designer, Danita Emma the choreographer, Neva Pilgrim the producer and musical preparation, and Juan Cruz the set designer. In addition to choreographing brief dances and the "Wounded Deer" ballet in the opera, Ms. Emma includes dance students from the Spanish Action League as wedding guests and in crowd scenes, while Juan Cruz has assistance in set-painting by Spanish Action League students, along with Stephen Carpenter, a recently retired art teacher from the Syr. City Public Schools, with help from former Danforth students.