Event Report:

Conquistador Inspires New Opera!

      Over 100 people crowded into Plan B, the Cinematheque in Santa Fe on August 9, 1998 to listen to San Diego composer, Myron Fink, talk about his experiences in composing the opera, ýThe Conquistadorţ. The attendees enjoyed a spirited presentation on the background of the creation of this very topical opera. ýThe Conquistadorţ is set in sixteenth-century Mexico. Through the opera the drama of Crypto-Jews unfolds, leading us through the time of the Spanish Inquisition and the secret practice of Judaism in the New World.
      Fink outlined his accidental discovery of the life of Don Luis de Carvajal, while perusing books in the Hunter College library stacks. A purple-bound book caught his eye. Martin CohenÝs The Martyr documented the history of a prominent crypto-Jewish family from Northern Mexico.
      This chance encounter was the beginning of Myron FinkÝs interest and research into the life of a powerful sixteenth-century Spanish Conquistador destroyed by the Inquisition.
      The audience learned how the composer took on an historical figure with a significant story for todayÝs world. We heard how Myron Fink recreated that slice of history, and transformed it into a compelling opera tale that would stand up to the scrutiny demanded of a commercial production.
      The audience learned, to their amusement, how, in opera, a good tenor role deserves a complementary soprano part, even if the story for the soprano needs to be invented. He went on to explain how his research increased his own awareness of what it means to be a Jew. In addition to the lecture, a scene from the opera was shown on video. A question and answer period followed the film presentation.
      Judging by the number of out-of-state license plates in the Plan B parking lot, there was widespread interest among Santa Fe visitors, as well as the local New Mexicans, in knowing more about ýThe Conquistador.ţ

ˇAl Solomon


Architect Talks of His War Years in Los Alamos and Northern New Mexico

      The New Mexico Jewish Historical Society and Temple Beth Shalom Adult Education Program were delighted to present a fascinating speaker, the renowned architect, Max Flatow. He spoke generally and specifically about war years in Northern New Mexico and Los Alamos.
      Max Flatow has designed some of the more notable structures in New Mexico. These include many of the buildings at what is now the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and many that are part of Los Alamos townsite. In Albuquerque, the tram, with the longest span in the world, as well as the DukeÝs stadium, are among Mr. FlatowÝs accomplishments.
      Max was called on to come to Los Alamos when it was still a secret city, and he was the only architect for the numerous building projects going on at that time. He was part of an engineering detachment, and in the spirit of those times, quite often supervised people who outranked him.
      MaxÝs reminiscences of the early days of Los Alamos included chance encounters with bears, frozen water tanks, fires that finally convinced management to put in sprinkler systems, and design of the computer facility where Mr. Flatow, himself, came to oversee his products being installed.
      This informative talk was followed by an invigorating question and answer period, in which MaxÝs wife also participated in giving snapshots of life during those years. It is good to be reminded that running water, or even better, hot and cold running water, is a modern kitchen convenience.
      This talk also served to remind us of the community aspect of the war years, people working long hours to accomplish a massive task.

ˇJay Samuels

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