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Visual Art

Vidas Perfectas

12 Jul 201419 Jul 2014


Alex Waterman  |  Robert Ashley  |  Javier Sinz de Robles  |  Ned Sublette  |  Elio Villafranca  |  Peter Gordon  |  Elisa Santiago  |  Raúl de Nieves

Vidas Perfectas was an all-new Spanish-language version of Robert Ashley’s ground-breaking “television opera” Perfect Lives (1983). With Ashley’s blessing, Alex Waterman directed this production from a Spanish translation by Javier Sainz de Robles.

The singer-songwriter Ned Sublette starred as the opera’s narrator “R,” in the role originated by Ashley. Playing with him was “Buddy, The World’s Greatest Piano Player,” a unique all-piano role for Cuban virtuoso Elio Villafranca. Composer Peter Gordon, who collaborated with Ashley on the original incarnation of Perfect Lives, returned as music producer, to play live electronics and mixing. The chorus was Elisa Santiago (appearing as Isolde, Gwyn, and Ida) and Raúl de Nieves (appearing as Will, Ed, and The Captain of the Football Team).

Perfect Lives was originally commissioned for television by The Kitchen (NY) in 1979 and was completed in 1983, co-produced by The Kitchen and Channel Four in Great Britain. It was aired on Channel Four in 1983 and in 1984, and subsequently on German, Austrian and Spanish television. Perfect Lives’ innovative combination of chanting, storytelling, meditation and ecstatic revelation, challenges the ways in which we perceive the relationship between language and music. It has almost single-handedly changed the way we think about opera, television, and performance.

In July 2014, Vidas Perfectas traveled “on location” for theatrical stagings in Marfa, Texas and on-site performances in Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, TX. All seven episodes were then compiled and edited for television. At the completion of all seven episodes, Vidas Perfectas toured internationally, accompanied by a full recording to be released on CD and DVD.


Listen to Marfa Public Radio’s Talk at Ten radio interview with director Alex Waterman on KRTS 93.5FM.