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San Diego-Based SWARMIUS Coming to Cornelia Street Cafe

San Diego-Based SWARMIUS Coming to Cornelia Street Cafe

Cornelia Street Café presents SWARMIUS Meets Opera, selections from the in-progress opera, Saint Francis De Los Barrios, a magical realistic tale inspired by the Francis of Assisi myth set in modern day Tijuana among the poor and a community of sex workers - drugs, borders, and Pope included.

These selections will be performed by San Diego-based SWARMIUS along with other new repertoire, in two sets on Friday, November 10th at 8:30pm & 10pm.

SWARMIUS creates mercurial, shape-shifting classical music fusion, blending sounds from Mexico, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Brazil.

The new opera is the work of composer Joseph Martin Waters, with libretto by Allan Havis, commissioned by up-and-coming San Diego City Opera, directed by Cynthia Stokes. Saint Francis De Los Barrios has been selected for workshop performance by the Qualcomm Institute IDEAS Initiative, subsequent to the NYC gig.


SWARMIUS Meets Opera

Musicians: Rudy Alexander Giron - countertenor voice; Todd Rewoldt - Alto saxophone; Michael Couper - soprano saxophone; Geoffrey Burleson - piano; Daniel Pate - percussion; Joseph Martin Waters - composer and laptop; with special guest Charles Coleman - baritone voice.

Friday, November 10, 2017
Two sets at 8:30pm & 10pm

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014
Subways: A/C/E/B/D/F/V to West 4th Street/1 to Christopher Street

Admission: $10 cover + $15 table minimum
Reservations Recommended: 212-989-9319

For more information, visit

About the Opera:
Saint Francis De Los Barrios is a new opera work sparked by a young bold company - San Diego City Opera - and is its first commissioned opera embracing an exciting fusion of pop, folk, and modern classic musical idioms. The libretto, roughly with 10% Spanish language text, centers around a charismatic young androgynous man, Francis, squatting in the abandon buildings of Tijuana. Francis, stricken with an incurable illness, has survived by selling his body and illicit drugs. When the opera starts, he has turned his life around from street vagrant to mystic prophet. Francis has healed the sick, found housing for homeless families, and large images of the Virgin Mary form on the streetscape of any hovel occupied by Francis. Within weeks, his reputation as St. Francis de los barrios has grown worldwide which threatens the Mexican authorities, the drug cartels and even the US/Mexican border. Pope Francis has decided to visit this remarkable young man too, triggering great alarm for two bordering nations during the turbulent reign of Trump. The internal complication for St. Francis concerns his complex past love relationships with Francis' medic Selina, who gave birth to his child a year ago, and Pedro who has been a long lover to Francis. Francis, as a prophet, senses the world will end in less than a generation and he also knows he cannot live beyond the next few months. In the exchange with the Pope, street Francis convinces Pope Francis that our age is approaching a final horizon. Qualcomm Institute is excited to present the new opera for the timeliness of themes on immigration, religious tolerance, sexual identity, global threats and the very nature of a multi-billion dollar wall boondoggle.

The renowned composer is Joseph Waters, Professor of Music Composition at SDSU. In rich collaboration with Waters is librettist and celebrated playwright Allan Havis, Professor of Theatre at UCSD. This dramatic material is in that rare subset of contemporary opera pushing boundaries on music and story content, fusion of visual and performance styles, and political commentary. Connected to the project are distinguished UCSD MFA alumni Cynthia Stokes (opera director) and Robin Roberts (set design). Previous work on the project was a concert of five opera songs at San Diego State University March 2017. One goal of the Qualcomm Institute showcase this December is to finish the opera composition for a later full production of the work by 2019.

Swarmius is a collective of virtuoso performers and composer, a kind of hybrid of a rock band and a classical chamber ensemble by design. Everybody contributes ideas, and these coalesce into ever evolving responses in the form of musical works. Nothing is off limits, and everything about the band is iconoclastic: The music belongs to no genre (or all) & the band follows it's own multi-generational, multicultural band of muses.

Founded in 2006 by composer Joseph Martin Waters and saxophone virtuoso Todd Rewoldt, Swarmius has evolved over 11 years into a sextet straddling both coasts, with members united in a fascination with exploring musical combinations from around the globe, often within the same piece. And in performing intricate chamber music demanding the highest technique.

The music is catchy and melodic. An example would be "Kali Karsilama", the band's perennial theme song, whose melodies are woven from ancient Romani scales and rhythms, with lead instruments racing around each other in a heterophonic swirl, landing and taking off with the precision of the blue angels.

About Allan Havis, Librettist
Librettist & playwright Allan Havis is the recipient of a Kennedy Center/American Express Award, HBO Playwrights USA Award, Foundation of Dramatist Guild/CBS Award, and fellowships from Guggenheim, Rockefeller, McKnight and National Endowment of the Arts. A graduate of Yale Drama School, he is the author of 19 full length published plays, a Harper & Row novel, and a book on 90 years of Cult Films. On the faculty at UC San Diego for 30 years. Saint Francis De Los Barrios is his 3rd opera.

About SD CITY Opera
SD CITY Opera spearheaded by Artistic Director, Cynthia Stokes. With a site-specific focus, champions new and contemporary works in English and Spanish, including works by American composers, non-traditional repertoire, and the fundamental reconceptualization of standard operas. SD CITY Opera is dedicated to building community by turning beautiful music into stunning theatre - contributing to the dynamic reimagining of opera in America for the 21st century. Saint Francis De Los Barrios is CITY Opera's first commission.


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