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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2008

World premiere ˇÚnicamente la Verdad! “videopera” closes IU Summer Music Festival Aug. 8 and 9

July 31, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Smuggling and betrayal. Myth and reality. Can fiction be truer than fact or reach a layer of truth that the usual facts don't make accessible?

ˇÚnicamente la Verdad!

Photo by: Bernard Gordillo

Print-Quality Photo

These intriguing issues and others will be explored in the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music's production of ˇUnicamente la Verdad! (Only the Truth!) on Aug. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. in downtown Bloomington's Buskirk-Chumley Theater. This world premiere, which concludes the 2008 IU Summer Music Festival, will feature the IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, conducted by Carmen Helena Téllez. Both performances are free and open to the public.

For many years, Mexicans everywhere have known about Camelia "la Tejana" (woman from Texas), who was the subject of many "corridos" -- a form of Mexican ballad -- popularized by the famous band Los Tigres del Norte. Camelia had dared to kill her lover, who betrayed her after they smuggled marijuana over the border together.

Though a fictional account and unlike other corridos, where the woman suffers deceit and betrayal in silence, this tale of Camelia sparked the "border imagination" about a strong woman who speaks and acts for herself. Outlaw and outcast, she disappeared into the social fabric and then surprisingly began to take on new forms.

This "videopera" encompasses elements from contemporary music video, tabloid journalism, analytical documentary, popular Mexican music and, of course, opera. The libretto, by Rubén Ortiz-Torres, is based on several news pieces about the return of the "real" Camelia and reconstructs her "true" story of trafficking marijuana and becoming a murderer for love.

Gabriela Ortiz

Gabriela Ortiz

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"A long time ago, I received a commission from the Organization of American States to write a chamber opera," said composer Gabriela Ortiz. "When I discussed this with my brother, Rubén, he suggested that we look at El Alarma -- a tabloid magazine that claims to print 'Only the Truth!' -- as a point of departure for ideas about popular stories in the news media that had a particular social impact. We found a striking piece of news and visual images about a man who committed suicide because of a woman, Camelia la Tejana. From that story, we started to conceive the entire opera."

Fact and fiction get mixed up and fuel popular participation and revisions. ˇUnicamente la Verdad! weaves together these truths and legends, their facts and fictions, ever seeking and transforming "Only the Truth!"

Two complementary events are free and open to the public:

Composing the New Works for Voice
Workshop led by composer Sven-David Sandström
Now-Aug. 2
Sweeney Hall (Simon Music Building) and Music Annex 066

Borderland Imaginations: Contemporary Opera, Media and New Artistic Expressions
Colloquium led by music theorist Marianne Kielian-Gilbert
Aug. 8-9 from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Sweeney Hall

For more information, including an interview with composer Gabriela Ortiz, visit