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Robert Xavier Rodríguez

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Frida (1991)
Text Writer
Book by Hilary Blecher. Lyrics and monologues by Migdalia Cruz.
G Schirmer Inc
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
2 Hours 0 Minutes
chorus [opt]
English, Spanish
Solo Instrument(s)
Mezzo soprano, Baritone, Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, 3 Calaveras (death figures), character voices
Alternate Orchestration
Programme Note
Cast List:

   FRIDA KAHLO: Mezzo-soprano
   DIEGO RIVERA: Baritone
      MR. ROCKEFELLER / EDWARD G. ROBINSON): Bass-baritone
   THREE CALAVERAS: three treble voices (two women and one man)


Sung in both Spanish and English, Frida is the story of renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, wife of the country’s great muralist Diego Riviera. Her tortured life unfolds in a flowing succession of scenes, acted and sung by three woman and three men in a variety of guises - masked or plain-faced and as two- or three-dimensional puppets; shadow puppets and projections are also involved. Diego’s preoccupation with art and other women shrivel Frida’s soul and her demands for love drain him; they need one another desperately. Divorce is imminent. Frida’s health deteriorates; only painting permits emotional release, translating her agonies into a series of canvases. Her fate is to live alone, engulfed by pain, but her paintings live forever, reflecting hidden dreams and inspiring courage to transcend conventional boundaries.

Related works:
   Frida Concert Suite for large ensemble

View Full Score - Act II
View Vocal Score - Complete

  • 07 MAR 2015
    Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, Detroit, MI
    Michigan Opera Theatre

    Other Dates:
    8 March - Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, Detroit, MI
    21,22 March - The Berman Center for the Performing Arts, Detroit, MI
    28 March - The Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit, MI
  • 24 OCT 2014
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Microscopic Opera

    Other Dates:
    25-27 October; 1,2 November - Pittsburgh, PA
  • 01 JUL 2012
    Kentfield, CA
    Contemporary Opera Marin

    Other Dates:
    22 July - Kentfield, CA
  • 15 JUN 2012
    Kentfield, CA
    Contemporary Opera Marin
    Paul Smith, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22,24,30 June - Kentfield, CA
  • 10 SEP 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Society for New Music
    Robert Xavier Rodriguez, conductor

    Other Dates:
    11 September - Syracuse, NY

Of all the performing arts, only opera is big enough to communicate the complex and tumultuous life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo....The success of Robert X. Rodriguez's testament to his talent....All elements of this production work in pleasing balance and perfect union to capture the full range of Kahlo's persona. It is, in turn, fragile, rugged, ethereal and earthy.
Syracuse Post-Standard, Linda Loomis,9/13/2009
The Best Opera/Musical Theater of 1991 ...a fascinating, magically engrossing evening ...The music is subtle and atmospheric ...genuinely original and genuinely accessible, a neat combination not that often achieved.
John Rockwell, New York Times,1/1/0001 exciting, long overdue musical biography ...raw, wonderfully dangerous theater.
USA Today,1/1/0001
...high drama ...conveys the radiance and explosive fury of the woman whose art was, in the words of André Breton, “a ribbon around a bomb.”
Time Magazine,1/1/0001 a mariachi group for which one has mixed mescaline in the tequila, tradition and distortion meld into a harmonic connection...
Die Neue Furche, ,1/1/0001
The American composer, Robert X. Rodríguez has made a musical of Frida Kahlo's life and suffering, in fact a sensationally good one. Violin, doublebass, guitar, clarinet and saxophone, trumpet, accordion, piano and percussion — the man does not need more to create extraordinarily evocative and wide-ranging worlds in sound. Boisterous Fiesta-Mexicana-strumming alternates with a brandy-soaked ballroom atmosphere, drama alternates with intimacy, poetry with bombast... Enormously charismatic, varied, full of nuance...It is all here and wonderful. Five stars deluxe.
Stefan Ender, Der Standard,1/1/0001
Robert Rodríguez wrote an opera about the painter Frida Kahlo with impressive music and drew from Copland and Bernstein, from musicals, from Kurt Weill, [and] from international as well as Mexican folklore. It shows yet again that if someone is seriously interested in chamber operas, a repertory exists today that reaches far beyond baroque and rococo opera...Thank you, Señor compositor, for the beautiful music.
Derek Weber, Salzburger Nachrichten,1/1/0001
...this is the stuff of which myths are born.
Neuen Volksblatt , ,1/1/0001
...In Rodriguez's work is a richness that goes beyond adjectives…Some rejected the title "opera" to brand it as a Broadway musical....Others compared it to a Mozart singspiel....What is important is that there was not a single individual that didn't applaud Rodríguez's seductive and refined language....There are very few composers with the intelligence and sense of humor to fuse new and traditional sonorities with unusual rhythms and melodies....I don't know what I enjoyed the most: the plasticity of the images,…the languid sensuality of the interludes in which piano, accordion and percussion made the atmosphere vibrate, the clever way in which her accident " the year 25..." was recreated in corrido rhythm...or the moving final aria that made us shed tears...
Lázaro Azar, La Reforma (Mexico City),1/1/0001
Sensational! Impacting! Magnificent! These are some of the enthusiastic words uttered by the public who attended the performance of the opera Frida last Friday at the Teatro Degollado. My mind is still full of the images and sounds of this work, which has had many successful performances in the United States and Germany since its creation in 1991. The opera is vibrant with life, expressing Frida's motto "¡Viva la vida!" Those of us who attended were privileged to see it. And who was most responsible for this work's impact?....The most important person here was the composer, Robert Rodríguez, who achieved a felicitous fusion of spoken dialogue, popular music and complex operatic music full of lyricism and passion...
Charles Nath, El Informador (Guadalajara),1/1/0001
The story is told smoothly and efficiently, often with subtle humor, always with a clear focus on the internal life of the main character. Frida is, at the same time, fragile and strong, idealistic and sensual, profoundly serious and devastatingly fun-loving...
María Isabel Sánchez, Magazinemx (Guadalajara),1/1/0001
The ovation for the Spanish premiere of the opera Frida lasted for eight minutes....The sold-out audience rose and showered the stage with red and white carnations....Many audience members participated in the spectacle by coming to the theater dressed as Frida (Kahlo) and Diego (Rivera).
Franco Daniel Gómez, El Universal (Guadalajara),1/1/0001
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