Welcome to a world that has been all but forgotten. The year is 1909 – the eve of the Mexican Revolution; and the place is the City of Mérida, situated in the beautiful Yucatán region of Mexico – a city styled on the lavish excesses of ancient European capitals.
It is a place of contradiction: the cheerful sound of ‘mariachi’ enjoyed by the townsfolk in the Plaza Mayor is in stark contrast to the abject misery of the Mayan slaves labouring in henequen fields from dawn to nightfall. And it is henequen (the cactus plant that provides the raw material for the manufacture of rope) that has enabled the local plantation owners to become rich beyond imagination.
This is the world of our protagonists: Diego Clemente, newly arrived from Seville – a young man with an ability to draw and paint birds as if they could ‘take flight from the page’; Edward Nelson, the esteemed American Naturalist; Very Useful, Nelson’s aptly named personal assistant; and Sofia Duarte, the young woman who will capture the hearts of all.
There are, of course, other principal players in our cast; but to gain a complete appreciation of the wondrous adventure that is The Stranger From Seville, you should first read the captivating novel (The Mapmaker’s Opera) by Béa Gonzalez from which the stage musical has been adapted.
The Stranger From Seville is, however, more than just an enthralling story. The novel speaks eloquently to all aspects of racial discrimination, slavery of indigenous peoples compelled to work the land rightfully theirs in the pursuit of profits only for unscrupulous land barons.
The Stranger From Seville
based on the novel, The Mapmaker’s Opera, by Béa Gonzalez
Music by Kevin Purcell
Book & Lyrics by Victor Kazan