Fratricide and Food Trucks in the City Different

Fratricide and Food Trucks in the City Different

Barry Cooney

Santa Fe Opera:
Pelleas et Melisande

French Impressionism in art and music often evoke dreamlike moods and reflective states of being. Claude Monet’s painting “Water Lilies” (1916), and Ravel’s music from the ballet “Daphnis et Chloe” (1912) are examples that immediately come to mind. Both of these aesthetic qualities are in full force in the latest Santa Fe Opera production of Claude Debussy’s (1862-1918) only opera Pelleas et Melisande.

From the first moments of this work, the subtle, almost understated instrumental harmonies are beautifully complemented by haunting video images skillfully displayed in back panels across the stage.  In addition, at certain critical points, thought provoking pairs of non-singing  character “doubles” stand silently facing one another in the background, adding a psychological component to the storyline. At times, these stage devices became somewhat distracting (eg. x-ray images of a human skull or molecular chains of unknown substances); but the overall effects were laudable.

There are numerous characters both seen and unseen that complicate the story of Pelleus and Melisande. At first glance it’s a simple love triangle between Golaud,, a personage of noble birth, his half-brother, Pelleas, and Melisande, a young woman of unknown identity whom Golaud discovers while hunting in the forest.  However, as the opera progresses more and more questions remain unanswered.  For example, we never learn who Melisande is, her origins or what circumstances led her to become lost in the woodlands. Likewise, we’re left in the dark as to why such a young girl would marry a much older man, like Golaud, much less become impregnated by him.

Rather, her attentions seem more clearly drawn to the considerably younger Pelleus, but in a child-like manner – a kind of puppy-love affection that is noted early on by Golaud. Suddenly, without warning, we are taken aback by his explosive, pathological anger, when Melisande tells him she has lost their wedding ring. (This initial burst of anger is a harbinger of the jealous rage that will lead Golaud to murder his half brother.)

Things would have had a much happier ending had Melisande been a bit more mature and Golaud less unhinged. But lust, insanity, jealousy and rejection are the food that tragic opera relishes and this masterpiece by Debussy feasts them.

Overall, this was a marvelous production.  Samantha Hanky, mezzo-soprano, was a sensual, sprightly Melisande, evoking soft sustaining tones in the higher registers, with lovely phrasing in the vocal narratives; similarly, baritone Gihoon Kim was a commanding Golaud, whose ability to navigate through difficult sustained passages was evident. Baritone Huw Montangue Rendell sang the role of Pelleas in clear lyrical tones. His duets with Ms. Hanky were delightful. The orchestra was led impeccably by the Santa Fe Opera’s Music Director Harry Bicket. Although known for his expertise in conducting Baroque opera, Maestro Bicket has demonstrated his mastery of any musical genre placed before him.

The music alone of Pelleus et Melisande would be enough to draw me to this opera; However, given the creative staging and set design, what would normally be a pleasurable experience became one infused with haunting allure, with a little magic thrown in for good measure.

The Santa Fe Opera:
Pelleas et Melisande

Composer: Claude Debussy
Performance Dates:
July 28th (8:30pm),
August 3rd, 9th, 18th (8:00 pm)
Tickets:  $50 – $350
Box Office:  (505) 986-5900


Restaurant Review
“Tacos: Mi Lagunitas”
Food Truck

It’s always reassuring when going to an ethnic restaurant to see the place patronized by people of the same ethnicity.  After more than a dozen trips to “Mi Luganitas” I haven’t encountered more than a handful of non-Mexicans ordering from the truck counter. My reasoning tells me this little food truck is a well-kept secret. Now, I want to expose it!

Food Trucks have become commonplace in Santa Fe.  Many of them huddle together in small bunches. By contrast, Mi Lagunitas is the sole occupant on an obscure side street  (Siler Park Rd.) off Agua Fria, running parallel to Cerrillos Road. I discovered it while visiting my friend Fred Prescott’s Kinetic Sculpture Park and Gallery, whose entrance way is just a stone’s throw from where the vehicle is parked.

I’ve been visiting Mexico since I was a young “muchacho”, so I know what real Mexican Food tastes like, and Mi Lagunitas is the real thing!  My favorite dish is the chicken burrito.  It’s huge – filled with hefty amounts of pulled chicken, avocado, onion, tomatoes cucumber, and a sauce that will light a fire in your mouth. (Thankfully, it’s served in a separate container.)  This eatery is open for breakfast and lunch. The menu is extensive, featuring a variety of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and tortas, including those made with tripas (beef intestines), lengua (beef tongue) and pastor (marinated pork). The beverages feature a number of Mexican sodas for those who like to exceed their daily sugar intake by significant amounts.

Everything about Mi Lagunitas is unpretentious, except for the delicious food. Don’t be shy when ordering. The owners speak English.  Although prices have risen in the last several months, owing to the increased cost of meat and vegetables, it’s well worth spending $10 for a hardy, tantalizing breakfast or lunch. (As opposed to the $20 ++  to eat at most Santa Fe dining establishments.)

I assure you, once you visit Mi Lagunitas, you’ll be bringing home these food delights for all your friends and family to enjoy!

Tacos: “Mi Lagunitas”
Siler Park Road (at Agua Fria)
Santa Fe, New Mexico

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