The Lariat

Center for Contemporary Opera, San Francisco International Arts Festival &
Scolavox present the first public Atelier performance of

The Lariat

A new opera by Lisa Scola Prosek based on the novella by Jaime De Angulo
Directed by Jim Cave and conducted by CCO chief conductor Sara Jobin
Featuring Philip Skinner, Mark Hernandez, Desirae Harp, Clifton Romig



Un-Scripted Theatre,

533 Sutter Street, Second Floor,

San Francisco, CA 94109

tickets & dates

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Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 7:00pm


The Center for Contemporary Opera, San Francisco International Arts Festival and Scolavox are pleased to present the first public rendition of the score and libretto of a new opera titled The Lariat as part of the Center for Contemporary Opera's Atelier Development Program.


The libretto created in collaboration with the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation of Monterey County will be in both the English and Esselen languages. The opera reveals intimate cultural details and beliefs of the Esselen tribe of Big Sur as its people face the influx of Spanish Missions towards the end of the 18th Century. It describes the difficult relationships between the Missionaries and the Esselen and the gulf between the two religious worlds. The exacting spiritual practices of both cultures are shown to be similar yet irreconcilable.


Anthropologist Jaime De Angulo documented many types of indigenous songs. These archives form the source for the opera score. However, although the action in The Lariat focuses on the Esselen, the original lyrics of the songs he notated were in Modoc, Miwok and Achumawi. Louise J. Miranda Ramirez, the Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Tribal Chair and the Esselen Tribal Council have translated these songs into Esselen—an indigenous language that had been considered extinct until the Esselen people themselves revived it.


Father Luis (Philip Skinner) is a Franciscan friar obsessed with learning the Esselen language to better convert the tribe to Christianity. His plan becomes more complicated when he falls in love with a young Esselen woman named Ashia'kxi (Desirae Harp) who has abandoned her shaman husband and found refuge in the Carmel Mission. The brokenhearted shaman (Clifton Romig) puts a curse on any future suitors she may have that torments them with dreams of wild animals and death. Human relationships become a metaphor for tensions in the interactions between the Spaniards and the Esselen. This eventually becomes personified as a love triangle between Fray Luis, Ashia'kxi and Ruiz Bendera (Mark Hernandez), a handsome vaquero (named Kinikilali by the Esselen) that she falls in love with.


The Lariat also features performances by Joe Meyer, Maria Mikheyenko, Alexis Jane Jensen and Wayne Wong with Bruce Olstad accompanying on piano.


The Lariat will premiere at the World Theatre, California State University Monterey Bay on February 6, 2015 co-presented by CSU Monterey Bay. The piece will then be presented at the Festival at the Fort Mason Center in May 2015.






Support for the production of The Lariat has been provided by generous grants from:

SF Arts CommissionThe Christensen FundZellerbachCenter for Cultural InnovationCASH GRANTS

The Center for Contemporary Opera Development Series is made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.