Sprinklers initially did their job on a small fire Sunday at the National Hispanic Cultural Center but then remained on for four hours – failing to automatically notify Fire Rescue – and causing a flood that is now wreaking havoc with major planned performances.
The incident inside the Roy E. Disney Performing Arts Center has local organizations, such as Opera Southwest and National Institute of Flamenco, scrambling to find new venues for coming performances.
The New Mexico Philharmonic planned to play there Sunday but canceled.
Tony Zancanella, Opera Southwest executive director, is trying to find solutions.
The company is staging the opera “Lohengrin,” which was supposed to be presented at the NHCC beginning March 31. The number of performances has been reduced from three to two, and they have been moved to V. Sue Cleveland Concert Hall in Rio Rancho.
The company also leases office space from the NHCC, but Zancanella says his offices weren’t damaged.
“I was able to get in Sunday and grab a laptop,” Zancanella said. “I was told verbally that there is zero percent chance that we’d be able to present ‘Lohengrin’ at the center. You never know how long the investigations are going to take, and it’s anybody’s guess how damaged it is.”
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Flamenco is moving its “Yjastros 34: The Rise of Flamenco” performances this weekend to what used to be Carlisle Gymnasium at the University of New Mexico.
Alberto Cuessey, NHCC acting executive director, said the small fire occurred in a mechanical room on the second floor of the performing arts building.
He said it’s too early to tell the extent of the damage and the NHCC is working with the State of New Mexico’s insurance providers.
“But crews are working as quickly as possible on the cleanup process so we can reopen the building,” Cuessey said.
Debra Garcia y Griego, secretary of NM Department of Cultural Affairs, said a departmental team has been down at the NHCC since Sunday morning assessing the damage.
“It will be at the end of the week before we know how extensive the damage is,” Garcia y Griego said. “Our goal is to open the performance venue once everything is repaired.”
Albuquerque Fire Rescue is working with the NHCC to determine why the sprinkler system didn’t alert crews to the fire.
Zancanella’s group has moved singers’ rehearsals to St. Paul Lutheran Church, and orchestra rehearsals are taking place at Las Puertas Event Center.
“We’re grateful to the community for stepping up in that way,” Zancanella said. The organization already sold 1,000 tickets to the event, he said. Singers were already en route to Albuquerque on Sunday for rehearsals and the board of directors would like to see the event go on.
“We’ve been working on this for two or three years,” Zancanella said. “Shifting to a new venue means that our original vision for this will be altered. The set was designed to go into one theater and will need to be reworked. We have a phenomenal cast who is working to make this the best show.”
The new dates for Opera Southwest are 7 p.m. Friday, March 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 31, at V. Sue Cleveland Concert Hall, 4800 Laban NE, Rio Rancho. The original dates were March 31, April 5 and April 7.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Flamenco also had to find a new venue for its “Yjastros 34: The Rise of Flamenco.”
The performance will feature Spanish dancers Daniel Doña and Cristian Martín, as well at the NIF’s repertory company, Yjastros.
The production includes the Orchestra of New Spain, based in Dallas. The production took about two years to put together.
The NIF sent out a release on Wednesday about the change.
“Due to facility damage at the National Hispanic Cultural Center this past weekend, the Yjastros 34 performance will take place at the Elizabeth Waters Center for Dance (Carlisle Gymnasium) on Friday, March 15th and Saturday, March 16th at 8 p.m.,” the release said.
Tickets for the show purchased through the NHCC box office will be refunded through the ticketing service. Tickets can be purchased for the show at 242-7600 or at nifnm.org.