A Musical Drama about the Virgin of Guadalupe
Opera in 1 Act
Libretto by William Luce
Principle Voices: Our Lady of Guadalupe- lyric soprano (low C#-to B-flat)
Mother Superior – mezzo soprano (low A to F#)
Juan Diego – baritone (B to E-flat)
Lord Bishop Zumaraga – tenor (E to G above top line)
*Sister Alisa – soprano 1
*Sister Teresa – soprano 2
*Sister Paloma – mezzo soprano 1
*Sister Delfina – mezzo soprano 2
*Angel 1 – soprano 1
*Angel 2 – soprano 2*Angel 3- mezzo soprano
Captain De Vaca/Uncle Juan – bass baritone
Chorus of nuns (soprani and alti), and small SATB chorus in Finale (men’s parts can be easily covered by the male roles in the show, with out the addition of extra tenors and basses if necessary)
*can be cast from the chorus of nuns; Sisters Alisa, Teresa, and Paloma may be double cast with Angels 1, 2, and 3, if desired.
Orchestrated version in preparation. Orchestral performance premiering November 15th, 2013
Flute (Pic), Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, Horn, Strings, Piano, Percussion (1 player)
It is 1525, three years following the destruction of the Aztec kingdom by Spanish invaders. A Conquistador Captain sets the stage for our story – as he sings boastfully of Spain’s brutal conquest of the Children of the Sun.
Into their chapel, Mother Superior and Nuns enter singing Ave Maria. The Captain and Lord Bishop enter. They share their dreams for the New World. One wants gold, the other, souls – yet both want glory. The young Nuns indulge in girlish gossip, until scolded by Mother Superior. Together, they prepare the baptism for an Aztec peasant, renamed Juan Diego. Lord Bishop annoints him.
Six years later, December, 1531, on his way to morning mass, Juan Diego passes the sacred hill of Tepeyac. He hears a beautiful song floating down from the summit and bird song. The woman’s voice is so heavenly, that he climbs the hill. Juan comes face to face with a startling vision. It is La Señora, the Virgin Mary. Three Angels are with her. “Juanito, I have a mission for you,” she says. “You and your people are my children. I want you to go to Lord Bishop and tell him it is my wish that he build a shrine for them.” Juan is frightened at first by her request, but finally strengthened by her words of comfort and reassurance.
The same day. Lord Bishop is at his desk, beset by fears for his future. He is being recalled to Spain. At this inopportune time, Juan Diego arrives to deliver the Lady’s request that His Grace erect a shrine for the conquered people. He is in no mood to consider the matter. Impatient and dismissive, he sends Juan on his way. “If she is who she claims to be, let her prove it with a miracle. Now go!” Alone and confused, Juan is approached by two Nuns. “Your uncle is dying,” they tell him. He hurriedly exits. Meanwhile, Lord Bishop tells Mother Superior of Juan’s vision. He orders her to disguise herself and follow Juan back to Tepeyac Hill.
In the Convent Refectory, the Nuns discuss Juan Diego. It seems Sister Paloma was eavesdropping on Juan’s conversation with Lord Bishop, so she eagerly shares the gossip about his vision of the Virgin. Her giddy companions eagerly listen. Mother Superior, doing a little eavesdropping herself, takes them by surprise. She angrily scolds them and threatens them with the wrath of God.
It is evening in a remote village. Propped up in bed is Juan Diego’s elderly uncle. A peasant woman tends to him, as Juan enters and kneels beside the bed. Sadly, he sees that the old man is close to dying. “You walked many miles to see me,” the uncle murmurs . “Please, Juan – find me a priest. There is little time left.”
It is early morning at Tepeyac Hill. Wearily, Juan appears. He is dejected, hopeless. We see Mother Superior furtively scurry behind a rock to spy on him. Suddenly, the Holy Virgin steps forward, her three Angels close by. “Juanito,” she says comfortingly, “do not worry – God has made your uncle well.” Juan is amazed. “My uncle? He is healed?” He weeps with relief – then admits to his own failed encounter with Lord Bishop. “I know,” she smiles, “he wants a miracle – and he shall have it. This is your last mission, Juanito – climb this wintry hill of thorns and frost. At the top you’ll find a sea of Castilian roses blooming. I want you to gather them and carry them to Lord Bishop. Then he will believe and be blessed. All will be blessed.” At this moment, Mother Superior fumbles and drops her cane with a clatter. They all see her, as she runs off. Juan is bemused. “What’s she doing here?” The Angels tell him – “Eavesdropping.” Puzzled, Juan shakes his head as he starts up the hill. “I wonder why she dressed like an Aztec farmer?”
Later that afternoon. Lord Bishop is in his office, listening to Mother Superior’s account. “I didn’t see the Holy Virgin, I didn’t hear any voice but his. But something was stirring the air.”
Lord Bishop is troubled, wanting to believe. She exits, as the Captain enters. He bears a letter for His Grace from the King of Spain. It’s good news – the summons to Spain is cancelled. Now the awaited visitor arrives. Juan enters, his poncho brimming with red roses, which cascade onto the floor. Lord Bishop kneels beside Juan. Now He does believe. “Holy Mary, Mother of God,” he cries. We know that the shrine will now be built. Suddenly, a greater miracle happens. There on Juan Diego’s poncho, the image of La Señora appears! At the sound of such joy, the Nuns enter with Mother Superior – reprising Ave Maria. Unseen by the company, the Holy Mother and her Angels glide downstage, joined by the entire ensemble in celebrating the restoration of the conquered people to their rightful place –
“Your flight to glory has begun –
you are invited guests of God –
you are the Children of the Sun.”
Audio (Piano Vocal)
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CHILDREN OF SUN libretto