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Family opera takes a trip to Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “A Way Home” is an hourlong opera about a young Mexican-American girl who learns about her cultural heritage.

The girl is Gracie, who journeys from her home in the United States to Mexico.

Gracie, accompanied by her father, Thomas, wants to fulfill her late mother Marisol’s wish: Spread her ashes in a butterfly preserve in Michoacan, the Mexican state where she was born.

If you go
WHAT: The family opera “A Way Home,” sung in English and Spanish with supertitles
WHEN: 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 31 and Friday, Feb. 1; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1
WHERE: National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 Fourth SW
HOW MUCH: The four daytime performances for students are free. Reservations may be made by calling 246-2261 ext. 189 or emailing or calling 724-4771. Tickets for the evening performance are $20 general public, $5 for those 16 and under in advance by calling Opera Southwest at 243-0591 or by visiting or at the door

The spirit of Marisol goes on its own journey as a monarch butterfly. Her spirit keeps Gracie safe and helps her understand and accept her Mexican roots.

And Gracie meets her grandfather, Agustin, for the first time; he never forgave his daughter for having left Mexico for the United States.

The Opera Southwest production will be staged for students in four daytime performances, two each on Thursday, Jan. 31 and Friday, Feb. 1. There is also an evening public performance Friday.

Five singers are in the opera. Cecilia Duarte sings Gracie, Seth Hartwell is Thomas, Cammy Cook is Marisol, Paul Bower is the grandfather Agustin and Elizabeth Hott is Kárani, Marisol’s spiritual guide butterfly.

Domenico Boyagian conducts a 13-piece orchestra. Ethan Frederick Greene composed the music and Irene Keliher wrote the libretto for the opera.

“It’s terrific music that is very accessible,” said David Bartholomew, stage director of the Opera Southwest production.

“It’s a very dramatic piece and good for the voice. It’s not off-the-wall modern music. It has a wonderful kind of appeal to it.”

Bartholomew said Opera Southwest staged the opera last year. “A Way Home” won the Opera Southwest’s biennial Brabson Composers’ Competition for a “New Opera for Families and Young Audiences.”

John Malolepsy designed the set and the lighting and Anna Constance designed the costumes.