February 21, 2020 The Orchestra of New Spain’s Saturday night performance of Love Conquers Impossible Love, a Spanish baroque zarzuela composed by Sebastián Durón in 1710, was a welcome bit of fantasy
The Orchestra of New Spain’s Saturday night performance of Love Conquers Impossible Love, a Spanish baroque zarzuela composed by Sebastián Durón in 1710, was a welcome bit of fantasy, combining baroque theater traditions with modern trends. A collaborative effort that spanned from Spain to Mexico to Dallas, this production represented the first stage performance of the work in the Americas.
February 21, 2020 Orchestra of New Spain presents a vividly staged zarzuela
There was much to enjoy in the vividly staged zarzuela presented Friday night by the Orchestra of New Spain. With one reservation, the relative intimacy of the 750-seat Moody Performance Hall proved ideal for Sebastián Durón’s 1711 El imposible mayor en amor, le vence amor, here rendered as Love Conquers Impossible Love.
March 16, 2020
Antonio Bartolo, Love Conquers Impossible Love's costume/set designer, created a dossier that showcases Impossible's reviews, production notes and a video on the costume design.
October 07, 2019 The Orchestra of New Spain kicked off its season with centuries-old Iberian peninsula music, with Jamal Mohamed Ensemble and Michelle Alany.
It was as much an exercise in public discourse as anything else when the Orchestra of New Spain opened its season with La Convivencia. Last weekend marked the third installation of the series with performances throughout Dallas. As in past iterations, this celebration of intercultural cooperation was the result of collaborations between ONS, the Jamal Mohamed Ensemble and guest artist Michelle Alany.
July 04, 2019 The Orchestra of New Spain closed its season with look at Paris in the 1920s through music and dance.
At last week’s concert, titled Paris in the 20’s, the Orchestra of New Spain stepped into an entirely new musical space, literally and figuratively. Led by artistic director Grover Wilkins, the program was a bold migration away from his usual penchant for early and Baroque music from the oft forgotten Spanish tradition into a purely vocal landscape shaded with colors of the folksy French countryside.
June 28, 2019 The evening’s program, "Paris in the '20s," mostly focused on French vocal music from the first half of the 20th century and diverged considerably from the repertoire the organization typically plays....
The evening’s program, "Paris in the '20s," mostly focused on French vocal music from the first half of the 20th century and diverged considerably from the repertoire the organization typically plays. One reason for this unusual turn, as music director and conductor Grover Wilkins explained via email, was the group’s decision to collaborate with Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet. The dance troupe takes inspiration from the famous Ballets Russes, who were active in the early 20th century. item about? What makes it interesting? Write a catchy description to grab your audience's attention...
April 02, 2019 Three choral concerts in one weekend range from modern dissonance to ancient elegance
One of Wilkins' real finds has been the composer Francisco Courcelle, born in Italy but mainly active at the Spanish court. Courcelle's 1731 Mass for five voices, strings and continuo is typical of a composer already nudging the transition from baroque to classical-period manners. Its main mood is jolly, albeit with some quite surprising progressions in the Gloria's "Et in terra pax."
It was interesting to hear it with period-instruments strings, trumpets and sackbuts, smaller-bore and mellower-toned precursors of modern trombones. Led by Wilkins, the chorus of 15 sang boldly and well.
February 21, 2019 The Orchestra of New Spain and New Mexico's Yjastros Flamenco Company beautifully expored the origins of an artform in the Rise of Flamenco performance.
Rise of Flamenco was a thoughtful collaboration of artistic disciplines—corporal, aural, and visual in nature—and a collaboration of artistic organizations: the Orchestra of New Spain, led by founder and artistic director Grover Wilkins; the Yjastros Flamenco Company of the National Institute of Flamenco, under the leadership of artistic director Joaquin Encinias; guest choreographer and soloist Daniel Doña along with soloist Cristian Martin; and Mexican visual artist Juan Carlos del Valle.
Opening with a lone Baroque guitar, the stage was minimally set, with a riser far up stage left for the musicians. The use of space is visually effective as del Valle’s projections provided a brilliantly expressive backdrop.
The instrumentation for this program was effective as well. Stepping away from their tradition of fastidious historical authenticity to baroque performance and practices, ONS incorporated both early music and modern interpretations into their playing in order to produce a sound that was fluid, expressive, and engaged on Spanish baroque guitars and strings. Whether serving as accompaniment for the dancers or featuring for an instrumental number, the musicians in this concert demonstrated a marked awareness of style and genre that breathed a fundamental energy into the night’s progression.
October 04, 2018 The Orchestra of New Spain launched its season with music of the Iberian peninsula between the eighth and 14th centuries"
What's What the Orchestra of New Spain does exceedingly well is, without question, research and curate. Artistic director Grover Wilkins III is skilled at bringing together a rich collection of music and providing historically and culturally engaging context. Such is definitely the case with the group’s performances of La Convivencia II last week, a celebration of music from the Iberian peninsula during the period between 711 A.D. and the end of the 14th century.
What makes it interesting? Write a catchy description to grab your audience's attention. With technical precision, this group of musicians showcased the energy and nuance of performance practices that can seldom be found elsewhere. Audience members were treated to expert demonstrations on exotic, historically accurate instruments
Wilkins invites audiences to partake in this obscure and fascinating genre of music and history at a time when most of us could surely stand to benefit from experiencing intercultural cohabitation and artistry. With all the rhetoric of ethnic and cultural divisiveness flooding the mainstream media these days, finding this nugget of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cooperation was truly refreshing.
Discovered in a Spanish library and edited by ONS artistic director Grover Wilkins III, who also conducted, the opera was probably getting its first airings since the 18th century. Even in a scaled-down and occasionally scruffy presentation, it was replete with fresh, vivid music worthy to stand alongside Handel's operas.
Set to a Pietro Metastasio libretto popular among other 18th-century composers, it dramatizes a lesser-known Achilles legend. Fearing the worst if Achilles went off to the Trojan wars, his mother dressed him as a girl and hid him in the court of the island kingdom of Skyros. But Deidamia, daughter of King Licomedes, realizes that this girl, "Pyrrha," is actually a boy, and the two fall in love. Then Ulysses, in search of a hero, shows up, and things get even more complicated.
Twenty years younger than Bach and Handel, born in Italy to French parents, Francisco Courcelle (1705-78) spent the second half of his life at the music-loving Spanish court. Wilkins has edited and performed several of the composer's sacred works.
If you may find our modern-day gender fluidity a little confusing, you can take heart in that such gender-bending behavior takes place in opera. Case in point is the recent production of Francisco Courcelle's 1744 opera Achilles in Skyros, last weekend by the Orchestra of New Spain at Moody Performance Hall. Here, we have a woman portraying a man, a hero, who is currently living as a woman.
ONS artistic director Grover Wilkins III digs these treasures out of dusty libraries and revives them in what are modern premieres. Pietro Metastasio, a librettist whose works were set by multiple composers, tailored this tale of royalty and the superman of the day, Achilles, portrayed by mezzo-soprano Carla López-Speziale.
February 19, 2017 “Spanish Flair” The Orchestra of New Spain delivers another terrific program of Baroque opera with the 18th century zarzuela Iphigenia en Tracia. by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theater Jones
Grover Wilkins is on to something. His foray into the production of Baroque opera fills an obvious vacancy in the artistic life of North Texas...On Saturday, in the Dallas City Performance Hall, Orchestra of New Spain gave a terrific performance of a rarity: Iphigenia en Tracia, José de Nebra's 1747 zarzuela, in a modern premiere…a superb production.
The star of the production is stage director Gustavo Tambascio. Mexican mezzo-soprani Carla Lopez Speziale and Eugenia Ramirez portrayed the male characters. Speziale gave Orestes some royal dignity, even when in disguise. Ramirez was also believable as Prince Polidoro, although she was a bit undersized. Both women showcased beautiful voices. Dallas-based Fredericka Popova continued to impress, showing growth with every performance. Her Iphigenia commanded the stage. Leslie Hochman turned in a fine performance as Dircea. Nick Miller brought royal substance to the role of Toante, King of Tracia.
Spanish dancer and choreographer Jaime Puente did a marvelous job in both areas. Nicolas Boni’s lovingly painted verdant seashore set and Antonio Bartolo’s extravagant costumes combined to make this ONS’s most lavish production yet.
February 23, 2016 “Villa y Corte the Music of Goya” Performed March 22, 2015 at Siglo de Oro Festival, El Paso. by Benjamin Gunter "Theater with a Mission" Bulletin of the Comediantes, 68.1
Maestro Wilkins prepared us for Chamizal’s first encounter with the tonadilla by a brief introduction to the genre… Tonadillas, were popular musical theater sketches, designed for presentation in a corral where every member of the public had a place, featuring actors who were famous for their box-office appeal, playing personae well-known to their fans, in star vehicles which relied on the kind of sure-fire plot devices that still sell well in telenovelas. Singing, dancing, and acting – the triple-threat skill set still necessary for stardom in musical theater – were so central to the genre’s conception that its librettists remained anonymous.
Villa y Corte had great value, both for scholars and for people who just like a good show. With period instruments, period costumes, and a period set, it authoritatively demonstrated how 18th-century Spanish theater songs, dances, and orchestras sounded and looked. It inspired its audience to re-think the role of singing, dancing, and instrumental music – elements easily overlooked when we study plays on the page –in making classical Spanish theater engaging on the stage. The singing was consistently well produced and (a rare treat for musical theater) always well balanced with the orchestra. The orchestra was admirably dramatic, adding a fine rendition of the Andante sostenuto from Boccherini’s La casa del diavolo to the program, proof that 18th-century Spanish composers could write dramatic conflict into their music. The dancing was dynamic and expert,
Where other tonadillas won respectful attention…La competencia held its audience spellbound. Here, the marriage of situational discord with musical concord was instantly accessible and totally captivating. The capacity crowd roared with laughter, listened with rapture, and rocketed to its feet when this closing sketch concluded. It was an ovation well earned by an evening superbly equipped to delight, instruct, and inspire.
October 16, 2014 “Period Adjustment” Review: Dia de la Raza by Robin Coffelt, Theater Jones
…..The three female singers in particular were all delightful, especially soprano Anna Popova, an area regular, who has a consistently full, rich, projecting voice. Some of the individual musicians in the small orchestra also did their jobs effectively: Veronika Vassileva brought animation and leadership to the concertmaster role, while cellist Eric Smith, bassist Gudrun Raschen, and harpsichordist Rene Schmidt excelled in providing a solid continuo.
The musical selections, on the other hand, were interesting and well-chosen. The uncovering of forgotten music is this orchestra’s forte. The tonadilla “Los Cómicos de México” effectively showcased baritone Patrick Gnage, tenor Michael Alonzo, and mezzo soprano Elda Paralto. Paralto has a delicious tone, and Gnage and Alonzo, while not projecting quite as well as their female counterparts (often, I am told, an issue for mid- and low-range voices and instruments in this hall), provided solid voices and appropriate levity in their roles.