About the Grant

$33,000 to support Revolution of Forms (MAP 2006), an opera with Robert Wilson, director and designer; Anthony Davis and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, composers; Charles Koppelman and Alma Guillermoprieto, librettists.

About the Project

It is January, 1961, two years since the Cuban Revolution. Two of the most improbable golfers in the history of the game – Fidel Castro and Che Guevara – tee off on the 18-hole Championship course at the Havana Country Club. As Che and Fidel play their round they talk about the future of the Revolution and what to do with this fancy golf course. “We will turn this playground for the rich into a wonderful school. We will build schools for the arts – art schools for the people!” Thus begins Revolution of Forms, an opera in five kneeplays and five scenes. Its contemporary musical score replicates, and abstracts from, the wealth of rhythmic and sensuous (sometimes minor-key tragic) Afro-Cuban musical traditions: danzon, rhumba, son, balada, guajira, mambo, among others.

Revolution of Forms is based on the real people and actual events surrounding Escuela Nacional de Arte, the Cuban National Art Schools. This is a political, cultural, and personal drama of classic proportions with an epic arc, passionate characters, and intense conflicts. Counter-intuitively perhaps, the primary drama lies not with Fidel and Che, who are minor characters. Instead we experience this revolution in culture and forms from the point of view of the architects, builders, workers, and art students who made it. There are no sides to take. Instead, this story retains an open-ended, ambiguous quality that touches on timeless and universal themes: creativity, revolution, community, and the desire for permanence.

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