Photo by Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang
La Llorona/The Weeping Woman (2008)
Part I of the Music Theater Trilogy Aguas Ancestrales - Ancient Waters
Western Stage Theater - Salinas Ca. - 2008
York Theater - New York, 2011 ( Reading)
Teatro Latea - New York, NY 2012
Opera Cultura - San Jose, Ca ( Nov. 2012)
National Endowment for the Arts - Artistic Excellence in Musical Theater
AT & T
Castellano Family Foundation
Applied Materials Foundation
Anyone who has ancestral roots from Mexico knows the legend of La Llorona/The Weeping Woman. This tale has been told and retold throughout central America and the southwest. She is the Mexican Medea.
In this contemporary Zarzuela (musical drama), La Llorona/The Weeping Woman, composer Hector Armienta, tells us how it all began:
Mexico at the turn of the century. A young Xochil Indian girl fell desperately in love with a man of Spanish lineage, and the great Xochil river has never forgiven her. Twenty years later she is married, and now the river will take its revenge upon her. Her husband will betray her, she will go mad, and the river will torment her until she sacrifices her only child, Sara. She will forever weep.
THE FOUR WORLDS
La Llorona ( the weeping woman) is trapped in the Four Worlds. Someone has called her name and Chilam, guardian of the Great River, forces her to relive her tragedy once more.
Time & Place: Late 19th century Mexico
COURTYARD OF DON ANTONIO AND MARIA DE GARZA
Maria enters the courtyard with her servant and friend Serafina. Serafina’s gossip about cheating husbands makes Maria uneasy. Soon, Maria’s fourteen year old daughter Sara enters. Serafina leaves. When Maria discovers Sara has visited the Xochil Mountains, she scolds her. Seeing the Netzal flowers that Sara has brought back from the mountains, Maria is reminded of her youth . She relives a moment from her childhood. Sichwa (Maria’s Xochil name) sings to the Great River. Soon, a Mexican soldier appears in the distance. Chilam, her mentor, warns her that if she goes to him and deserts her people, the River will takes its vengeance upon her and all of her kind. Maria’s memory (flashback) is interrupted by the voice of her husband Antonio. Antonio tells Maria that Don Rafael and his daughter Carmela have arrived. Seeing that Sara is poorly dressed, he chastises both of them and Sara leaves to change. Antonio goes to retrieve the guests. Maria reminisces on the blissful days of her youth, while the servants lament Maria’s loveless marriage. Don Rafael, his daughter Carmela, and Antonio enter. Maria does her best to make the guests feel welcome, but it is clear Don Rafael does not see Maria as his equal. Maria excuses herself to go check on the food. Carmela decides to take a stroll on the grounds and leaves as well. Antonio reveals to Don Rafael that he met Maria ( Sichwa) when she was she was very young. So captivated by her voice and her beauty, that he fell in love and married her. Don Rafael tells Antonio she bewitched him and when the Indian rebellion reaches them, Antonio will have to decide what side he is on. When Carmela returns, Don Rafael invites Antonio to their home to discuss the war. Maria enters and notices the special attention her husband gives Carmela. An argument soon ensues between Don Rafael and her about the treatment of the indigeneous people. Don Rafael and Carmela decide to leave. Sensing that Antonio is having an affair with Carmela, Maria pleads with him not to leave, but he refuses. With Sara now watching, their argument becomes violent and Antonio leaves to Don Rafael’s home. Maria is determined not to lose her husband. The servants, who have transformed into Spirit women, decide to aide her and they leave together. Chilam, who’s been watching, lures Sara outside the safety of the estate and Sara disappears into the darkness.
THE DEAD FOREST, evening
Sara reaches a large Ceiba tree and is trying to spot the Queztal bird that lead her here. Chilam appears and slowly gains her trust. He tells her that the tree, like the forest, sleeps, and waits for the River’s return. A legend has it that a child will make a great offering to the River and it will return to the forest. Balance will then be restored. Chilam persuades her to go with him to make an offering to the River.
THE TOWN PLAZA
Maria, dazed and confused, enters the town square in search of Antonio. The towns people see her and become fearful of the stranger. An angry crowd encircle her but the Spirit women protect her. Maria continues her search for her husband.
THE SALON OF DON RAFAEL’S HOME
Don Rafael and Antonio have compiled a list of rebel conspirators. Carmela enters . Don Rafael conveniently excuses himself for the evening. The secret lovers embrace each other. However, Carmela has become tired of the secrecy and threatens to end the affair unless Antonio finds a way to rid himself of Maria and marry her. Afraid of losing her, he adds Maria’s name to the list of rebel conspirators and they both leave to Carmela’s bedroom. Maria arrives and searches for Antonio. She soon sees him in the arms of Carmela. Waiting for Carmela to be alone, she goes to her and with the help of the Spirit women, kills her. Maria then makes her escape.
MOUTH OF THE XOCHIL RIVER
The Shaman and Sara arrive at the cenote, where the River now dwells. She walks toward the River to offer it Netzal flowers, but becomes fearful of it. Maria arrives and tells Sara not to be afraid. Though Sara begs her to take her home, Maria takes her into the water and sacrifices her to the River. The River has taken its revenge, balance has been restored and Llorona returns to the Four Worlds.
1.30For information about work requirements ( characters, voice types, instrumentation, etc...), please CLICK HERE