Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Dream, Sing and Look Fabulous in World Premiere at San Diego Opera

 by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt 

Image by Eloise Kazan, Costume Designer.

Opening San Diego Opera’s 2022-2023 season is a great-sounding world premiere, with a limited run—only four performances, from Oct 29-Nov 6.

The characters in El último sueño de Frida y Diego (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego) are the famed artist couple, but the story is pure fantasy, with fabulous sets and costumes. It all takes place on Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)—appropriately, the end of October—with Diego Rivera nearing the end of his life and longing to see his dead wife Frida Kahlo again. For one day only, they get to relive their passions and re-experience their paintings, accompanied by characters from the afterlife and music performed by the San Diego Symphony.

“Frida Kahlo has been a hero since my girlhood,” said composer Gabriela Lena Frank, a multi-award winner whose name made the Washington Post's list of the 35 most significant women composers in history. “Before I could read, I found her in the pages of an art book in my mother’s home library, the only woman in a multi-volume set of ‘great artists’… Images in her paintings danced in my dreams for years.” 

This is her first opera, and her librettist is Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz, whose many awards include a Pulitzer Prize.

Besides what promises to be stellar performances by mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz as Frida, baritone Alfredo Daza as Diego, soprano Maria Katzarava as Catrina, keeper of the underworld, and countertenor Key’mon Murrah as Leonardo, a young actor who befriends Frida in the world of the dead, the costumes by Eloise Kazan will be a special attraction. Her credits include designs for theatre, dance, opera and film productions in the U.S., U.K., Europe and Mexico.  She won top prize for costume design at the Prague Quadrennial in 2007, and she was a member of the international jury for World Stage Design in 2017 and 2022. 

Here are two behind-the-scenes images of her work-in-progress on Frida costumes. 

Image Courtesy of San Diego Opera.

Image Courtesy of San Diego Opera.

The scenic design by Jorge Ballina should look wonderful too. Born in Mexico City, he is a member of the Mexican National System of Art Creators and has designed award-winning sets for productions and festivals around the world. Here is an early rendering of his set for The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, courtesy of San Diego Opera.

Image by Jorge Ballina, Scenic Designer.

The opera will be performed in Spanish, with English supertitles, at San Diego Civic Theatre, with evening performances Saturday. October 29, Tuesday. November 1, and Friday, November 4 at 7:30 pm and a matinee Sunday, November 6 at 2 pm. For information and tickets go to

Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has been writing about arts and lifestyles in San Diego County for over a dozen years. You can reach her at 

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