Opera Theater Rutgers to Present Act One Workshop of Upcoming ‘Escobar’ Opera

By Logan Martell

On December 1, Opera Theater Rutgers will present an Act one workshop of Matteo Neri’s and Alejandra Martinez’s upcoming opera, “Escobar.”

This Spanish-language opera adapts the life and downfall of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar. The opera, which began in development in 2016, has been previously workshopped at Fort Worth Opera, and will also present an excerpt on April 4 as part of Austin Opera’s “Bella Noche de Musica” concert, in collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin and Opera de bellas Artes.

“The story of Pablo Escobar is quintessentially operatic,” Neri said in an official press release. “It is also a very relevant story in the 21st century; as a native Italian, I am very aware of the toll that organized crime can have on a country. All of the Americas have been dealing with these issues for decades as well, and I believe that it is important to shed light on these issues in art. I am also passionate about revitalizing opera in Romance languages, particularly Spanish. Spanish is an American language, and it has been so underutilized in American opera. I am honored to follow the examples of such vanguard composers as Daniel Catán and Gabriela Ortiz in adding to the contemporary Spanish-language repertory.”

“Writing this operatic version of Pablo Escobar, a man who symbolizes many different things to many different people, was certainly daunting, but I was most interested in stepping away from stereotypical portrayals and instead show him as neither a saint or a demon, but as a human being,” added Martinez. “I also strive in this work to amplify the voices of women who are so frequently the targets of cartel violence in Latin America.”