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Opera Bhutan premieres at 6 p.m. Aug. 30, 2014,
at UTEP’s Don Haskins Center

Join traditional Bhutanese performers and world-class opera singers for a once-in-a-lifetime production celebrating UTEP’s century of connection with the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

The event is free and open to the public.

. Opera Bhutan features international opera stars and UTEP performer  with Bhutanese music, dance and culture combined in an original production of Handel’s ACIS and GALATEA , an opera with a universal theme of the redemptive power of love. The opera premiered in Bhutan on October 12, 2013, the eve of the second anniversary 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 Handel’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.

– David Grabarkewitz

Here are 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 Opera’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

Galatea  – Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli
Acis  – Thomas McLeay
Polyphemus  – Jacques Greg Bilobo
Damon  – Brian Downen
& the performers of UTEP’s Young Artists Program