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Acclaimed opera about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo comes to El Paso

El Paso Opera poster for "Frida"

Less than 40 years after the death of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, an opera was written about her. And, as Arianne Marcee, executive director of El Paso muses, “was Frida designed for an opera or what? The drama, the pain, the passion [of her life], it’s like it was an opera waiting to happen.” That opera, “Frida,” by Robert Xavier Rodriguez, which premiered in 1991, will be staged by El Paso Opera on August 27, starring Catalina Cuervo as Frida Kahlo and Riccardo Herrera as her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera. Cuervo and Herrera have performed the roles in numerous other cities over the last several years.

“The opera goes through all of the major milestones of Frida’s life,” Marcee told Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in this Zoom interview, but El Paso Opera artistic director Justin Lucero gives it his own interpretation. “He has it being on her deathbed and going through the memories of her life,” she said, which makes El Paso’s production unique – though the music and story are the same.

El Paso Opera Executive Director Arianne Marcee, from a Zoom interview
Arianne Marcee
El Paso Opera Executive Director Arianne Marcee, from a Zoom interview

El Paso Opera’s original plans for the opera were put on hold during the pandemic, so the production has been two years in the making. In celebration of the opera and to educate the public about the artist, August is “Viva Frida” month, with numerous events – from art classes to wine and tequila tastings to talks and family activities. Information on the events can be found on the El Paso Opera website and on social media.

Listen to the interview to learn more about Frida Kahlo’s life, composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez, El Paso Opera’s production, and more. “Frida” will be performed on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Abraham Chavez Theater.