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World Premiere of 'Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Roses'

May 04, 2008 - 11:40 PDT


PHOENIX, AZ (MAY 4, 2008) - May 16 and May 17 will see the world premiere of a new opera, "Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Roses," by ASU Herberger College School of Music composer, James DeMars, based on the appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Mexican-Indian Juan Diego. The two-act opera will be presented as a concert featuring internationally recognized singers Isola Jones (mezzo-soprano) as Our Lady of Guadalupe and Robert Breault (tenor) as Juan Diego.

ASU faculty vocalists Carole Fitzpatrick (soprano) and Robert Barefield (baritone) will add their talents as La Malinche and Bishop Zumarraga. Multi-Grammy nominee Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai and Huichol musician Xavier Quijas Yxayotl performing Aztec flutes and percussion will add an indigenous flavor to the music. Assisted by concert-mistress Danwen Jiang, DeMars will conduct the Guadalupe Festival Orchestra & Chorus, an ensemble of ASU faculty, advanced students, and members of the ASU Symphonic Chorale and Sun Valley Chorale.

Audiences will have the rare opportunity to hear two of the finest singers in the world, Isola Jones and Robert Breault. Ms. Jones is an internationally recognized mezzo-soprano who made her professional debut in the Verdi Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and then went on to sing more than 500 performances as a leading artist at "The Met" where she was paired with Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, and performed under the baton of Richard Bonynge and James Levine. Some of her leading roles include Giulietta in Les Contes D'Hoffman, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, and Maddalena in Rigoletto, but it is her portrayal of Carmen, her signature role, for which she is best known.

Tenor Robert Breault, who enjoys an international career encompassing opera, oratorio, recital, and concert work, is known for his warm and flexible voice, and dramatic acting skills. He sings a wide range of literature ranging from Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Rodolfo in La Bohčme, and Don Jose in Carmen to Handel's Messiah, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Opera News described him as making "an excellent impression, his mellifluous tenor boasting clarity of both tone and diction; clearly reveling in high notes, he sang with notable dynamic variety."

The appearance of the Virgin Mary to the peasant Juan Diego in 1531 created the foundation for spiritual life in Mexico and throughout Latin America. The power of the story of how a peasant's vision and miraculous experience changed his society is still felt strongly almost five hundred years later. Like the story, which is set against a background of two cultures, the pagan Aztec and Catholic Spanish, coalescing into a new society, the music is also a multicultural blending of musical styles, artists, and languages. The libretto includes text in English, Spanish, Latin, and Nahuatl (Aztec).

DeMars integrated European, African, Native American, and native Mexican
musical elements in his score, and asked the world's premier Native American flutist and his frequent collaborator, R. Carlos Nakai, to provide a native "voice" to interact with the vocal soloists. To further expand the native expression, Huichol percussionist and flutist, Xavier Quijas Yxayotl, will provide exotic musical colors from indigenous Mexico, and Mark Sunkett will provide the power and rhythmic complexity of African drums and percussion.

The two performances of "Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Roses" will be on Friday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark's, 322 North Horne (between Center and Stapley, one block south of University) in Mesa. Tickets are $20 and $15 for students with ID and are available at the door and at Changing Hands Bookstore (SW corner of Guadalupe and McClintock in Tempe). For reservations and ticket information call Canyon Records at (602) 266-7835 during business hours (all credit cards are accepted). For more information or to purchase tickets online go to

This world premiere is underwritten and produced by Canyon Records, an independent record company specializing in Native American music since 1951, with support from the ASU Herberger College School of Music, Changing Hands Bookstore, Jack Miller Productions, Nile Graphics, and Herding Cats Productions.

For more information contact Kathy Norris at (602) 266-7835 or


Canyon Records
Robert Doyle - Executive Producer, 602 266-7835




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