'Cubanacán: A Revolution of Forms' is indeed the first new Cuban opera in nearly five decades. Itself some twelve years in the making, this new production comes to fruition via American filmmaker Charles Koppleman to kick off the 2015 Havana Biennial on May 22, under the curious theme “Between the Idea and the Experience.” Featuring a libretto by Koppleman, music by Cuban composer Roberto Valera (who will also conduct) and stage direction by the Parisian upstart Charles Chemin, 'Cubanacán' looks at moment in the history of Castro’s reign that you've likely never read about before.
A few months ago, we wrote an article about how re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba would affect musicians. Now, as time has passed, we are seeing details of this legislation starting to form and the changes that come along with it.
The restoration of diplomatic and commercial ties between the United States and Cuba will not only hit us politically but will also have a profound effect on music and the arts. Though battling bureaucratic laws, the cultural exchange between the U.S. and Cuba has not been lost in recent years. Even before this week’s announcement, musicians have been traveling to perform in the previous out-of-bounds nation. Arturo O’Farrill, a New Yorker, was performing at the Havana International Jazz Festival with his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, while Cuban flutist Maraca was in New York preparing to play this weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center. President Barack Obama’s “new approach” to Cuban policy will make it easier for American artists to travel to Cuba to perform and vice versa. Cuba could even plausibly become a profitable tourist destination for the first time in five decades. The new policy can end need for time-consuming security checks that often leave Cubans who want to perform in the United States in limbo. Easing commercial restrictions could allow American presenters to begin paying fees to the Cuban artists they bring to the United States, who by law are now allowed only smaller per diem payments and travel reimbursements.