.Â Opera Bhutan features international opera stars and UTEP performer Â withÂ Bhutanese music, dance and culture combined in an original productionÂ of Handelâ€™s ACIS and GALATEA , an opera with a universal theme ofÂ the redemptive power of love. The opera premiered inÂ Bhutan on October 12, 2013, the eve of the second anniversaryÂ of the Royal Wedding. Here are El Paso Opera Artistic Director David Grabarkewitz’s photos and impressions of Butan after his visit there to help launch the premiere.
How can one enter Shangri-La through the Himalayas and not be overwhelmed?
Opera Bhutan was an overwhelming experience.
Traveling to Bhutan with The University of Texas at El Paso was the culmination of producing the first western opera in that Kingdom. Kudos to UTEP and Dr. Natalicio for creating a beautiful outdoor presentation of Handelâ€™s Acis and Galatea, performed outdoors at the Royal Textile Academy for the Queen Mother and hundreds of Bhutanese and Western travellers, with over 30 UTEP students in the production.
What a spectacle! It was overwhelming, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.
â€“ David Grabarkewitz
Here areÂ photos of ehearsals for Acis and Galatea, which incorporated Bhutanese dancers and featured Francesca Mazzulli as Galatea. The performance took place in the courtyard of The Royal Textile Academy, against a backdrop of prayer flags and the Himalayan Mountain Range. El Paso Operaâ€™s David Grabarkewitz and Karl Shymanovich took the trip with UTEP performers and other artists from all over the world.
Director – Stefano Vizioli
Conductor – Aaron Carpene
GalateaÂ – Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli
AcisÂ – Thomas McLeay
PolyphemusÂ – Jacques Greg Bilobo
DamonÂ – Brian Downen
& the performers of UTEP’s Young Artists Program