Revolution of Forms
Water Mill, New York
It is January, 1961, two years after the Cuban Revolution. Two of the most improbable golfers in the history of the game, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, tee off on the 18-hole Championship course at the Havana Country Club. As Che and Fidel play their round, they talk about the future of the Revolution and what to do with this fancy golf course. "We will turn this playground for the rich into a wonderful school. We will build schools for the arts—art schools for the people!" Thus begins Revolution of Forms, an opera in five kneeplays and five scenes. Its contemporary musical score replicates, and abstracts from, the wealth of rhythmic and sensuous (sometimes minor-key tragic) Afro-Cuban musical traditions: danzon, rhumba, son, balada, guajira, and mambo, among others. Revolution of Forms is based on the real people and actual events surrounding Escuela Nacional de Arte, the Cuban National Art Schools. This is a political, cultural, and personal drama of classic proportions with an epic arc, passionate characters, and intense conflicts. Counter-intuitively perhaps, the primary drama lies not with Fidel and Che, who are minor characters. Instead we experience this revolution in culture and forms from the point of view of the architects, builders, workers, and art students who made it. There are no sides to take. Instead, this story retains an open-ended, ambiguous quality that touches on timeless and universal themes: creativity, revolution, community, and the desire for permanence. The Revolution of Forms creative group assembles in November to further develop the structure, music, libretto, staging, design and approach of the opera. This lecture and demonstration presents elements about the work-in-progress. The creative team includes Robert Wilson, director and designer; Anthony Davis and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, composers; and Charles Koppelman and Alma Guillermoprieto, librettists. Revolution of Forms will have its World Premiere at the Los Angeles Opera in May 2009.