A couple of months ago, I photographed the dress rehearsal of Opera Southwest's production of Zorro. You may recall my October 10 post on this topic when I had just finished shooting publicity photos for the opera.
The score and book for Zorro were written by Héctor Armienta, who also wrote the opera adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya's beloved New Mexico bildungsroman, Bless Me, Ultima, which OSW produced and presented in 2018.
Zorro is set in Spanish colonial California in the early 19th century. I won't recapitulate the opera's story in this post, but if you're interested you can see photos of the complete dress rehearsal, along with a scene-by-scene synopsis, on my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here. In this post I want to tell you about The Two Who Stole the Show.
The opera features classic characters: Diego de la Vega, a young man in search of his destiny . . .
. . . Moncada, cruel mayor of Los Angeles who believes in Spanish supremacy . . .
. . . Ana Maria, a mestiza with a revolutionary spirit, in love with Diego . . .
and Carlotta, a privileged, pure-blood Spanish rival for Diego's affection . . .
While photographing the dress rehearsal, I am not listening to the music nor judging the singing -- I'm totally focused on the scenes and emotions I'm trying to capture. But occasionally there are moments or characters in a production that break through my concentration and make a lasting impression.
In Zorro, that lasting impression was made by two minor characters. Each of them is dissatisfied with their lot in life; each is looking for love; and each, in their own way, is charmingly naive. Given my untutored sensibilities, these two may not be what an opera aficionado would cite as significant, but they impressed me. In two scenes of their own, they stole the show.
Gomez, portrayed by Javier Ortiz, is the bumbling, somewhat clueless aide-de-camp of the evil mayor:
Luisa, portrayed by Laura Soto-Bayomi, is a servant in the de la Vega household who longs for a better life:
Luisa, serving drinks at a masquerade ball, spots Gomez across the plaza, and moves in to flatter and flirt with him:
Would you like a drink, my General?
I'm not a General, I'm a Sergeant.
A man like you should be a General!
You're the kind of man that most women desire.
Gomez is easily hooked, and it's not long before Luisa lures him away:
Want to know my name? Follow me, my General!
When next we see them, days have passed; Luisa and Gomez are rendezvousing in a secluded area.
They embark on a hilarious exchange.
Luisa confides that this is her first time, ever.
Gomez says he understands, and that he, too, has a confession to make: "I'm not special like you think I am. What do you see in me?"
Luisa replies, "A general, a mayor, a king! I see potential."
"But you need someone to guide you, help you. Someone smart, attractive, and charming."
"You mean . . ."
. . . like my cousin, Marco!"
Luisa replies, "Me! I'm talking about me!"
"Oh, yes! Yes, of course!"
They continue in this vein, sharing their dreams of what it could be like working together, encouraging each other with greater and more elaborate visions of wealth and comfort.
The joyful chemistry between these two lit up the stage and brought refreshing innocence and comic relief to the story.
But wait, there's more . . .
At the end of each dress rehearsal, cast members gather onstage for pick-ups: instructions and re-rehearsals of short sections of the singing or orchestra parts directed by Maestro Anthony Barrese.
It's also the time when the Director (Octavio Cardenas, for this production) provides some feedback to the singers and chorus.
There's a lot of waiting around, so the mood is relaxed but immediately attentive when required. While they wait, cast members chat . . .
. . . or goof around (maybe playing to my camera a little?):
In that spirit, Javier Ortiz (Gomez) and Laura Soto-Bayomi (Luisa) provided another charming example of the innocence and joy in their characters, both when re-rehearsing . . .
. . . or just being spontaneously silly:
Brava and bravo to The Two Who Stole the Show !
If you would like to see these images (and many more) in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.