Opera Las Vegas to Premiere Comic Opera ‘Behold the Man’ Based on Botched Fresco Restoration

By Chris Ruel

Opera Las Vegas is set to stage the world premiere of “Behold The Man,” a comic opera by composer Paul Fowler and librettist Andrew Flack, on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2023, at the Horn Theater on the College of Southern Nevada campus in North Las Vegas.

The opera is based on the true story of Cecilia Giménez‘s botched restoration of the “Ecce Homo” fresco in Borja, Spain, which became a viral sensation on the internet. “Behold The Man” explores the aftermath of Giménez’s restoration, following her journey from being shamed and ostracized by her community to regaining her reputation as curious tourists flocked to see the “restored” fresco. The story revolves around the themes of the power of faith, love, and forgiveness.

Fowler and Flack designed “Behold The Man” to appeal to mainstream audiences and created a unique fusion of classical and modern music styles, ranging from Gregorian chants to pop hits.

In a press release, composer Paul Fowler explained, “Because so much of the story’s visual content was driven by its exposure on the Internet, we wanted the music to assume the same relevance. Since you can go online and access music that’s 700 years old, or was uploaded seven seconds ago, all music is fair game for re-interpretation, much like what happened to Cecilia’s image.”

Librettist Andrew Flack added, “This is the story of a Spanish village at the mercy of the Internet. One of their own has embarrassed them, and her neighbors react with fear and recriminations. But the woman at the heart of our story has the grace and grit to persist and prevail, which in the end makes all things right.”

“Behold The Man” marks the start of Opera Las Vegas’ 25th anniversary season and promises to deliver a one-of-a-kind hybrid music theater experience.

Watch the trailer.