Chasing a Dream: A Backpacker’s Odyssey in Mexico
an opera-musical by Aryeh Har-Even
Chasing a Dream: A Backpacker’s Odyssey in Mexico is a full-length opera-musical set in Mexico (2 hrs 42 min not including intermission). The story is a work of fiction. Set in 1983, the drama takes place in three locales: Act 1) the west-central mountain city of Colima; Act 2) the sleepy south-west coastal town of Puerto Angel; and Act 3) the southern mountain city Oaxaca. Other than a handful of spoken lines, the show is entirely sung and is an eclectic blend of ranchera (Mexican), romantico (Mexican), rock, jazz, pop and classical styles.
Lionel, a twenty-seven year old back-packing Canadian, has traveled to Mexico for the winter to “get away” from the expectations of family back home and do some soul searching. Upon arrival, he becomes involved in an unlikely romance with Guadalupe, a twenty-three year old market girl, who dreams of going to California in pursuit of a better life. Through a series of comic, romantic and frantic episodes occurring over a three month period, the headstrong duo take us on a thought provoking journey which ultimately ends in heartache.
the 1990 recording
MINI BLOG: About the recording
As mentioned in the bio, I completed the composition of my Mexico opera-musical in [the summer of] 1989. Needing a recording to showcase the work and being on a very limited budget, the following spring I selected a handful of scenes which, when assembled chronologically, might convey an overall sense of the story as well as some of the musical styles.
Act 1 Scene 7 Come To The Table (2:32)
It is New Year’s Eve. Guadalupe has brought Lionel to her brother Miguel’s home for a family party. Isabel, Miguel's wife, calls everyone to the table for dinner.
Act 1 Scene 7 Come Away With Me / In Mexico (4:27)
Stealing a moment alone in the kitchen, Lionel has asked Guadalupe to travel with him to the south of Mexico. Hurriedly gathering her thoughts, Guadalupe replies with a wistful smile.
Act 2 Scene 1 It's So Quiet (4:46)
Guadalupe has accompanied Lionel to Puerto Angel, a picturesque coastal town in the southern state of Oaxaca. They have rented a room in a humble house overlooking the bay.
Act 3 Scene 6 My Favorite Time Of The Day (3:37)
Distraught that Guadalupe has left him, Lionel meanders aimlessly about the zocalo in Oaxaca. Consumed by his loss, Lionel calls out to the Guadalupe etched in his minds eye, repeating her name as though sending a message into the ether. The audio excerpt begins as the plaza fades into darkness, and Guadalupe, illuminated in a soft sheen, appears in a vision before Lionel.
Patricia O'Callaghan: Elisa (a.k.a. Guadalupe)
Blair Young: Eric (a.k.a. Lionel)
Shelagh Tyreman: Isabel
Michael Jones: Faustino
Patricia O'Callaghan, Blair Young, Shelagh Tyreman, Michael Jones, Chris Ryan
Engineer: Gadi Foltys
Using Finale software, I've notated the composition as a piano/vocal score. Available in PDF file format, upon arrangement.
The composer down in Mexico, early 1986.
A new recording of the piano score Pt.1
With An Eye On The Future
As explained in the bio, in 2021, during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I made a midi recording of the complete 2 hrs 42 min piano accompaniment of my opera-musical set in Mexico with the primary goal of laying down the singers tracks in the future, either with live vocalists or on my own through the use of technology. But as life rarely unfolds as planned, I mused that if I die before having a chance to see the project through to a full production, the recording will, at a minimum, serve as a reference for those after me regarding how I envision the score performed (i.e. articulation, dynamics, phrasing, tempo). And then, the unexpected happened. (See Pt. 2)
A new recording of the piano score Pt.2
The Future Is Here: AI
In 2023, science fiction took a giant leap into the realm of reality as it is now possible to produce quality vocal tracks with virtual singers because of developments in AI, artificial intelligence. With regard to Chasing a Dream: A Backpacker’s Odyssey in Mexico, this means that I, an untrained vocalist, can now record and then change my performance (or an assistant’s performance) of any role in the opera into another voice, the perfect voice for the role at hand, perhaps even a famous voice, male or female. And from what I have gleaned, when an AI performance is not quite right, one will soon be able to edit the vocals, adjusting all parameters of the track—i.e. articulation, dynamics, phrasing, pitch, tempo—with precision (as has been the case for decades with instrumental sample libraries). In short, e.g. Luciano Pavarotti, John Lennon, Willie Nelson, or some unique blend of any group of virtual singers, are coming to every composer and songwriter’s desktop. And the same goes for female voices: e.g. Maria Callas, Janis Joplin, Karen Carpenter, whomever is best suited for a specific performance, realized with pizzazz. And the same goes for the spoken word, e.g. Laurence Olivier, Morgan Freeman… And all this will be done legally through licensing with living artists who wish to participate or artists estates if deceased. Conclusion: Although my first choice is to have living vocalists perform my work, it’s wonderful to know that an alternative option exists. Otherwise, the future is here and I’m all in.