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Robert Xavier Rodríguez

Publisher: G. Schirmer

La Curandera (2006)
Text Writer
Mary Medrick
G Schirmer Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
1 Hour 0 Minutes
English, Spanish
Baritone, Bass, Contralto (Voice), Mezzo soprano, Soprano, Tenor
Programme Note
Robert Xavier Rodríguez La Curandera (2006)
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La Curandera (2005) is a comedy in one act, commissioned by Opera Colorado. The premiere production in 2006 was presented on a double bill with Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne (1768). Mary Medrick's libretto of La Curandera is based on an original story inspired by Mozart’s three-character opera. The new Mexican setting replaces the original sorcerer with a curandera, or practitioner of folk healing and magic, and adds three additional characters. Although the libretto is primarily in English, there are frequent Spanish words and phrases, including many popular proverbs and idiomatic expressions from both Mexico and Spain. The libretto also incorporates actual curandera incantations, rituals and procedures from Mexican folklore as well as from current practice in Mexico and in the United States. In treating the natural and the supernatural as two sides of the same coin, the central character of the opera, La Curandera, embodies what conductor/composer Eduardo Mata described as an essential feature of his childhood in Mexico, “living close to witches and sorcerers. Their sons and daughters were my friends. I grew up in a world where magic and the interplay between the real and the objective and the unreal and the magic coexisted on a daily basis. This [syncretism] has been a way of life in many of the cultures of Hispano-America...”
The music of La Curandera, likewise, pays homage to Mozart, with a Mexican flavor. The six singers are joined by eight instrumentalists: clarinet (doubling alto saxophone), trumpet, bass trombone, percussion, accordion, piano, violin and cello. In the overture, the distinctive entrance music for Mozart’s sorcerer is heard, then transformed into sounds of mariachi. Authentic Mexican melodies are employed throughout the opera, including the national anthem, Mexicanos al grito de guerra, the traditional march, Zacatecas, the folk song, La chinita and several melodies, textures and harmonic patterns derived from the traditional son jarocho-style music of Veracruz: El guapo, Coni coni, El huerfanito, El borracho, El buscapies and La bruja. Arias, spoken dialogue and accompanied recitative alternate with intricate opera buffa ensembles in a score filled with Rodriguez' characteristic "richly lyrical" (Musical America) writing, in a style "romantically dramatic" (Washington Post) and full of the composer's "all-encompassing sense of humor" (Los Angeles Times).

Cast List:

   DIONISIA: Mezzo-soprano
   RAMÓN: Baritone
   LA CURANDERA: Contralto
   ALBERTO: Tenor
   ALBA: Soprano


Present-day Tepoztlán, a village near Mexico City known for its curanderos/curanderas, or practitioners of folk magic.

On the edge of town lives La Curandera, a slightly mystical herbal healer who actually relies very little on magic. Instead, she depends on her own listening skills, good sense, personal charm and kind heart. After a visit with her, everyone feels better, and audiences for the new opera La Curandera will feel the same way. Robert Xavier Rodríguez's Mexican-style, one-act opera is a joy to watch — pure fun, set to beautiful music.
Dan Taylor, The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA),04/03/2007
...Opera Colorado's world premiere of Robert Xavier Rodríguez' La Curandera is a revelation. Building on an adolescent Mozart's precocious first Singspeil effort, Bastien and Bastienne (which comprises the entertaining thirty-five minute opening act of the evening), Rodriguez' inventive score and Mary Medrick's modern libretto highlight the timelessness of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's original story while creatively updating the romantic tale for 21st-Century sensibilities and adapting it to Latin American cultural paradigms.
Bob Bows, Variety,28/05/2006 entertaining, family-friendly treat. appealing, mariachi-infused score that draws much of its ethnic flavor from the accordion, an unusual instrument in opera, and an array of percussion.

Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post,17/05/2006
...Opera Colorado has created a mini-masterpiece that seems destined to be popular for years to come. La Curandera, premiering Saturday in the Eugenia Rawls Theatre on the Auraria Campus, is a work of such freshness and spontaneity that the large audience present for the event was ready to sing along in its final chorus.

...It's Rodríguez, however, who is the star of the evening, for in La Curandera he has created a work both demanding and accessible and of a charm that makes it irresistible.

Wes Blomster, Boulder Daily Camera,15/05/2006
In an extraordinary feat, La Curandera, a comic one-act opera, combines the world of opera with the world of Mexican Folklore…The result of what Rodríguez has accomplished with this piece is a musical masterpiece of Mexican folk music, Mozart and American jazz.
Magdalena Gallegos, El Semanario (Denver),01/01/0001
…fun-filled original…Moving and mesmerizing… The music is magnificent, a tuneful, cleverly orchestrated blend of Mexican folk and Mozart-esque whimsy… Brisk, bubbly and packed with tunes you might still be humming a week later…
David Templeton, Metro Active (SF Bay Area),01/01/0001
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