Experimental Chamber Opera
Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance is a bilingual cross-border opera about the life and death of Pancho Villa. Commissioned by Ballroom, the project is the third installment of The Marfa Triptych, a genre-hopping trilogy of musical performances by visionary composer Graham Reynolds. The opera is an insightful examination of the Mexican and Mexican-American impact on the culture and politics of West Texas, contributing to the current and timely conversation about borders and the limitations of the concept of delineated states.
Exploring facts from Villa’s biography while also examining the mythology surrounding him, the opera asks what Pancho Villa means to Mexican and American culture and where these meanings intersect and conflict. The opera brings together artistic collaborators from both sides of the river to engage in a borderless conversation about the shared history between Mexico and the United States, Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance is the epic closing chapter in The Marfa Triptych. Reynolds experiments with an exciting hybrid of composition and production techniques while leading an eight piece ensemble to bring Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol’s fascinating libretto to an intensely visceral and intimate life.
The team includes composer Graham Reynolds; Mexico City-based theater collective Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol as librettists; Shawn Sides of the Rude Mechs as director; Austin Lyric Opera tenor Paul Sanchez as Pancho Villa; and Grammy Award-winning producer Adrian Quesada on guitar.
To stay up to date on future performances please visit panchovillaopera.com.
About The Marfa Triptych
The Marfa Triptych is three portraits of West Texas as envisioned by Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds, inspired by Reynolds’ interest in the intermingled populations of the Texas-Mexico border regions, from ejido to ranch to the visual arts community.
The first installment in The Marfa Triptych, The Country & Western Big Band Suite, was performed in November 2013 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas. An instrumental suite for 13 players, Reynolds described the piece as “classic instrumental country meets Western soundtrack meets power jazz rhythm section.” Vogue called it “beautiful and raucous.”
Reynolds performed the second composition, a live score to the desert sunset, on October 4, 2014, at the Overlook at Mimms Ranch in Marfa, Texas. Among an intimate audience of 60, Reynolds played acoustic piano and various percussion instruments as the sun set and the moon rose.
The final piece in the Triptych, Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance, is an experimental chamber opera for two singers and six instrumentalists using a hybrid of compositional techniques, including looping and sampling, overdubbed layers of vocals, improvisation mixed with notation, remixes by Mexican electronic artists, and devised theater staging and conception practices. A culmination of the themes developed in the first two sections, Pancho Villa reflects the Mexican and Mexican-American impact on the region, the permeability of borders, and the limitations of our concept of delineated states.
The Marfa Triptych: Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance has been made possible by the generous support of Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston; Creative Capital; Fusebox Festival; Golden Hornet Composer Laboratory; National Endowment for the Arts; National Performance Network; Texas Commission on the Arts; the Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees; and Ballroom Marfa members.
The independent jury of the Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative has endorsed this project.
In-kind support provided by Big Bend Brewing Company, Gem & Bolt, and SAVED Wines.
Special thanks to Art Basel, The Big Bend Sentinel, Ron Berry, Jennifer Boomer Trammell, Camp Bosworth, The Capri, Vicente Celis, Tim Crowley, the Crowley Theater, Suzanne Deal Booth, Justin Elliott, David Fenster, Danielle Firoozi, Fusebox, Jenner Gorn, Jessica Hodin, Nicki Ittner, Buck Johnston, Kickstarter, Matt and Mikelle Kruger, David Lobel, Marfa Meat Company, Marfa Public Radio, Marfa Recording Company, Alex Marks, Willa McDonald, Victoria Rogers, the Townsend Austin, Noel Waggener, and Molly Walker.
Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance is also made possible by these generous backers of our Kickstarter campaign:
Sandra Adair, Anne Adams, Peggy and Jim Adams, Sarah Adler, Pablo Alvarado, Chris Amatruda, Valerie and Robert Arber, ArKtype/Thomas O. Kriegsmann, Art Production Fund, Susan Moore Ashcroft, Robin Aufses, Carol Austin, Austin Art Services, Jessica Ayers, Andrew Bacon, Sven Terje Bang, Melanie Barr, Diane Barnes, Elizabeth Baskin, Daphne Beal, R. Michael Berrier, Bruce Benson, Leah Bentley, Karen Bernstein, Jacqueline Berry, Heather Bhandari, Michael Bisbee, Stuart Bishop, Joe B. Bland, Erika Blumenfeld, Ted Bonin, Kristin Bonkemeyer, Alexia Bonomi and Bill Willis, Suzanne Deal Booth, Luke Borders, Ryan Botkin, Bill Bragin, BRNNR, David Brody, Steve Bunch, Annie Bush, Charles Butt, Anna Button, James Cone, Carole Carden, Liz Cass, Cassie, John Caulkins, Grace Cha, Erika Clarke, S. Clements, Brooke Collins, Cynthia Collins, Teresa Corbin, Cristina, Stephen Curran, Michael Dahlke, Ann Daughety, Eric Davis, Janie DeGuerin, Brenda Delao, Paul Dery, Deborah Devins, L.B. Deyo, Fern Diaz, JD DiFabbio, Fairfax Dorn, John and Lisa Dorn, Hans Dorsinville, Pam Duerr, Glory Edim, David Egeland, Tahn Eismann, Emily, Elaine Emmi, Matt Emmi, Anne-Cecilie Engell Speyer, Steven Esparza, Patrick Evans, Nina Fanti, Mary Farley, Judd Farris, Jim Findlay, Jay Fitzgerald, Kerthy Fix, James Flyn, Dawn Forrest, Heather Forrester, Helen Winkler Fosdick, Katie Price Fowlkes, Julene Franki, Frazier-Brown, Douglas B. Friedman, Mary Gaitan, Christine Garcia, Becky Gardner, Rebecca Gardner, Cathy Gaubert, Trey Gerfers, Genevieve Gill, Lezlie Glade, Isabell Glimcher, Lilly Glimcher, Rebbecca Louise Goddammit, Golden Hornet Project, Matthew Goudeau, Ihor Gowda, Natalie Grand, Christine Green, Cheryl Guerrero, Mark Guiducci, Harvey Guion, Lisa Hagemann, Tom Haines, Laura Hajovsky, Luc Hale, Donna M Hall, Jim and Marty Hamilton, Robert Hammond, Brian Harnetty, Lisa Hart, Maximilien Hein, Dawn Hennessey, Brie Hensold, Tommy and Dee Hilfiger, Howard Hilliard, Remi Hisataka, Jessica Hodin, Tom Hollenback, Virginia Honig, Cedric Howe, Nicki Ittner, Steph Itz, Mathew Day Jackson, Catalina Maria Johnson, Jenny Johnson, Buck Johnston, Kendra Jones, Brian Jose, Dean Kameros, Randy Kaplan, Shelley Kaplan, Emily Keeton, Irene Keil, Danielle and Brooks Kieschnick, Shane Kimzey, Tammy and Jamie King, Beth Klehr, Megan Koch, Willa Koerner, Koikuri, Sheryl L. Kolasinski, Rex Koontz, Claire Kugler, Leslie Kuhn, Allie Laird, Jenny Laird, Virginia Lebermann, Jon Leland, Richard Leonarz, Mike Levy, David Lobel, Tina and Michael Lobel, John Loner, Laura Lotti, Gary Luedecke, Robbie Luke, JB Lyde, Katherine Magy, Ethan Maki, Billy Marginot, Janet Maykus, Shannon McCormick, Willa McDonald, Kate McKenna, Mano Mercantile, Laura Merritt, The Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation, Kathryn Millan, Michael Mitchell, Polly Monear, Andrew and Brucie Moore, Carol Moore, Phillip and Vicki Moran, Phillipe Muller, Molly Murray, Keith Napoleon, Jason Neulander, Mike Nicholson, Fredrik Nilsen, Sharon Oberlander, Connor Oman, Kimberly Orr, Jon Otis, The Owl Wine Bar and Home Goods, Katherine Pan, Liz Pappademas, Tracy LaQuey Parker, Chase Pashkowich, Carolyn Pfeiffer, Stacy Pinelli, John Pitts, Bettina Prentice, Anita Prewett, Maria Giulia Prezioso, David Quin, Rajendra, Edia Ramey, Cassandra Ramirez, Rikhi Ramrakha, Joe Randel, Kendel Ratley, Renee Reed, Ginger Reeder, Raul Reymundi, George Reynolds, Graham Reynolds, Brooke Robinson, Isha Rogers, Lawrence Rogers, Victoria Rogers, Lees Romano, Michal Rosenn, Georgina Rovirosa, Jennifer Ash Rudick, Gryphon Rue, Charles Ruger, David Ruiz and Bank of America, Nancy Sanders, Katherine Sandoz, Valerie Santerli, Sara, Riccardo Sartori, Cindy Scroggins, Francisco Segura and Randy Rubio, Eugene Sepulveda, Rajendra Serber, Jorge Sermini, Barbara Shack, Katherine Shaughnessy, Eiji Shimizu, Jay Shull, Laura Sico, Max Alexander Singer, Siobhan, Kristin Sjoberg, Paul Smithyman, Joe Specht, Melanie Spiegel, Susan Spies, Caitlin Stedman, John Stokes, Dena Stoner, Joey Story, Sara Story, DJ Stout, Yancey Strickler, Brooke Stroud, Robert Summers, Rima Suqi, Molly Surno, Tom and Diana Sutton, Julie Swoope, Daryl Tanner, Katy Taylor, Lonn and Deedee Taylor, Rachel Blackney Tepper, Frances and Robin Thompson, Laura Thoms, Tizoctrevino, Jolene Torr, Dale Truitt, Max Tuncar, James Turnbull, Kristina Van Dyke and Jeff Fort, Signe Veje, Mike Vernusky, Yvonne Force and Leo Villareal, Beth Viner, T.A. Vogler, Molly Walker, Libby Walter, Eric Damon Walters, Tonya Walton, Julie Ann Ward, Katie Watkins, Dale Weaver, Andrew Webster, Meghan Wells, Billy Werb, Marissa Wertheimer, Allison Wheeler, Jenni Wieland, Melody Wilcocks, Brandon Williams, Elizabeth Williams, Janet Williams and Bill McDonald, Annie Wilson, Sarah Woodhatch, David Wright, Will Yankus, Jim Yoder, Alison Young, Nick Yulman, and Tieg Zaharia
Called “the quintessential modern composer” by the London Independent, Graham Reynolds composes and records music for film, theater and performance with collaborators ranging from Richard Linklater and Jack Black to DJ Spooky and Ballet Austin. His film projects include scores for Before Midnight, Bernie, and A Scanner Darkly. With the Golden Arm Trio, Reynolds has toured the country and released four critically acclaimed albums; he is Artistic Director of Golden Hornet Composer Laboratory, which has produced over 70 concerts by more than 60 contemporary composers. He is a member of the Rude Mechs theater collective, resident composer with Salvage Vanguard Theater, and received the 2016 Creative Capital Award for the Pancho Villa chamber opera.
Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol
Founded in 2003 by Luisa Pardo and Gabino Rodriguez, Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol is a community of Mexico City artists making projects that link work and life and erase borders. They seek to clarify and articulate, but also to disrupt and unravel notions of biography, document, and history. In exploring events of the past, their work highlights how arbitrarily history is constructed. But their aim is not to correct the record, rather to put the emphasis elsewhere, to change the narrator, to create perspective, and to make up stories.
Lagartijas Tiradas Al Sol have presented their work across Mexico and abroad; Festival Automne in Paris, The Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, Vienna Festwochen, the High Season of Girona, Contemporary Scene in Madrid, Montreal Transameriques, Theater Spektakell of Zurich, among many others. They have received several awards, among them the nomination of Luisa Pardo and Gabino Rodriguez as candidates of The Rolex Mentor and Protege Initiative 2008, the Audience Award at the Festival Impatience in Paris 2011 (Odeon Theatre and Centquatre) and ZKB Foldpreiss in Zurich 2011.