As the main character of Hopscotch, Lucha was probably the most iconic new figure in the opera world in 2015. Audiences followed this mysterious woman in yellow across Los Angeles, spending time on each leg of the Hopscotch journey with Lucha at different stages in her life.
Maria Elena Altany, Justine Aronson, Delaram Kamareh and Suzanna Guzmán are four of the 19 Luchas. They each approach her differently, of course. But there are ties between them—interconnections of the sort that Hopscotch in its designed randomness as an opera (directed by Yuval Sharon) excited in viewers.
Kamareh embodies what she calls a “Freudian Lucha.” She sings of feeling “precariously balanced, ready to fall forward or back.” Her music, composed by Veronika Krausas with libretto by Tom Jacobson, is echoed by Justine Aronson’s Lucha, who sings the same words and melody in her chapter also written by Krausas and Jacobson. The music not only connects the Luchas to one another, but also permeates the singers’ personas.
For Guzmán, the role of the elderly Lucha is deeply personal. “The Elysian Park route is my hometown!” she says of her chapter which takes place in a car that drives through the hills near Dodger Stadium, “Every moment in my life and Lucha’s life are intertwined.”
In an aria composed by Marc Lowenstein with libretto by Mandy Kahn, Guzmán’s Lucha says, “Time is happening all at once,” as she makes a phone call to her younger self, the Lucha played by Altany. Altany’s Lucha rides in a similar car, singing a duet in conversation with Guzmán’s voice on the other end of the phone.
This video explores the dynamic between older and younger Luchas, and how profound it was for both Guzmán and Altany. Composers and librettists informed and influenced the singers’ understanding of this compelling and complex character, Lucha.
For all of them, Lucha’s experiences meshed with their own. The role was personal, and the line between performer and character blurred. The audience was left with the sense that to connect with art is to connect with the self.