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
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.