BWW Interviews: Catherine Filloux Talks Libretto for NEW ARRIVALS
Catherine Filloux is applying the finishing touches to her highly anticipated, new libretto for Houston Grand Opera's production of New Arrivals. Houston Grand Opera commissioned the piece. Giving Houston and world audiences a sneak peak into the opera, with a score by John Glover, and the story behind its creation, Catherine Filloux took a moment of her time to answer some of my questions.
Your new opera, New Arrivals, centers on a refugee of Cambodia, who escaped the horrors of the Khmer Rouge. However, this is not your piece that discusses these horrors. What draws you to this topic?
I was drawn to the energy of the young refugees whom Yani Rose Keo has inspired. I saw how Yani Rose Keo is a true leader, and I wanted to dramatize her extraordinary drive to empower other people. Her compassion is tied to her own loss. I am personally drawn to this theme.
The central character of New Arrivals is Yani Rose Keo, who fled Cambodia and eventually took up residence in Houston. She opened a not-for-profit agency, The Alliance for Multiculutral Community, which works with refugees. What was it about Yani Rose Keo's story that attracted you to write the libretto for New Arrivals?
New Arrivals is a commission from Houston Grand Opera (HGO). I came to Houston last summer and HGO arranged for me to spend time with Yani at her agency. I was asked to come up with a story for the opera and to write the libretto. I was deeply moved by the geographical and psychological distances refugees need to travel, and I decided to use an airplane to tell my story. Also, I was attracted to the nature of time, how it surges forward and how it stands still. The composer John Glover and I had the opportunity to discuss how trauma plays into the rhythm of this opera.
New Arrivals has its world premier at Houston's celebration of World Refugee Day (June 16, 2012). How does it feel knowing that your piece is being commissioned for such a prestigious event?
It is such an honor to share this chamber opera on World Refugee Day. Houston Grand Opera has made a commitment to diverse audiences and to an artistic team that cares deeply about how to produce and perform this opera. The composer John Glover has created a thrilling score.