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Lensic to host debut of new opera

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sweet Potato can’t resist kicking the sun out of the sky.

This young Tater lives in a rooftop garden with her best friend 89, a hummingbird who follows the rules. Now the two must join with the baby honeybees, the pigeons, a squirrel and Grandfather and Grandmother to return the sun to the sky.

The world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas’ “Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun” opens at Santa Fe’s Lensic Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 26. Leslie Dunton-Downer penned the libretto.

“It talks about what happens when an individual, through choices, makes something terrible happen,” Carmen Flórez-Mansi, music director and conductor. “She is this young child that wants attention.”

Written for all ages, the opera addresses respect for and love of nature, as well as respect for the wisdom of the older generations.

The music is both virtuosic and creative, with orchestral improvisation creating bird calls, Flórez-Mansi said.

YouTube star Nicole Paris is the guest artist making her Santa Fe Opera debut. Paris will both beatbox and sing in an amalgam of musical traditions.

The opera was commissioned by Opera for All Voices, a consortium of North American companies featuring the Santa Fe Opera, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Minnesota Opera, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the San Francisco Opera, the Sarasota Opera and the Seattle Opera.

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