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America Tropical
Composer:David Conte
Librettist:Oliver Mayer
Scene One – The Torna Atras (The Throw-Aways) Los Angeles, 1932. The Mexican muralist SIQUEIROS surveys a blank wall that will become the canvas for his latest artwork “America Tropical.” (Tell Me What A Wall Can Do...") As he wonders how the as-yet uncreated images will reflect not only the past history but the future of Los Angeles and its citizens. The original POBLADORES (Founders) of the City arrive, circa 1781, at the last leg of a 1,000 mile journey, (We've Come A Thousand Miles...) and begin to build their settlement. The Spaniard LARA and the Indian MARIA SOLEDAD, ask for the blessing of the Virgin Mary, but Maria Soledad’s husband Black carpenter MORENO questions their faith. Lara and Moreno differ on the casta system, the taxonomy that categorizes a person based on the percentage of Spanish blood in his family (From Spanish and Indian a Mestiza is Born...). As the battles lines between them are drawn. Scene Two – The Double Cross Siqueiros begins to create his image, using themes and images from 1781. As he works. HOLLIDAY appears, circa 1991, video handycam in hand, in South Los Angeles. (Catch The Moments Before They Go Wherever Moments Go...) Now all three time periods begin to meld. As Siqueiros propositions Maria Soledad, Lara and his henchmen arrest and beat Moreno in front of the Cross he built to honor the founding of the City. Holliday uses his handycam to witness the attack, which resembles the beating of Rodney King. Refusing the advances of Siqueiros, Maria Soledad approaches Moreno, who cannot understand why he was beaten. (Were You There When They Beat Me To The Ground?) As all their faith is tested. Scene Three – Twelve Minutes Holliday, circa 1992, muses over the twelve minutes of evidence of the videotaped beating and its consequences on the entire city. As Los Angeles burns, the citizens of Los Angeles, past and future, come together to reaffirm their beliefs (We Believe A Good Life is Possible on Earth). But Moreno cannot put his faith in organized belief or progress. Siquerios, working feverishly, now reveals the full “America Tropical” mural with an INDIA crucified upon a Double Cross, for everyone to see. Moreno sees a symbol of his own pain. But Maria Soledad sees the blessing, even in the symbolism. As she prays to it, the India comes to life and blesses the citizens of Los Angeles (Blessings on this City/Blessings on this Life). Scene Four – The Sweet Inside Given new life, Maria Soledad tells Siqueiros that his mural has missed the heart of the people. Taking the aspect of the Virgin Mary, she helps the India off the Cross. The people of Los Angeles come together with a new understanding of their limitations and possibilities. As Siqueiros moves on, and his mural is destroyed, the People reaffirm their lives and loves. as citizens, here and now (Reprise: From Spanish and Indian a Mestiza is Born). Maria Soledad has the last word: (We Live Here and Now).

Title Information

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Number of Acts
4 scenes

Vocal & Musical Forces
8 principals (2 Tenors, 2 Baritones, 2 Sopranos, 2 Bass-baritones); orchestra (flute, Bb clarinet, violin, cello, double bass, piano)

Original Cast
Siqueiros - Mark Hernandez Maria - Sibel Demirmen Moreno - Antoine Garth, Lara - Eleazar Rodriquez, Holliday - Chad Runyon, Camero - Justin Smith, Nararro - Adam Lau,The India - Sepideh Moafi

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