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Bodhi Tree Concerts Announces Commission of New Bilingual Chamber Opera by Pulitzer-Prize Winning Composer Anthony Davis Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, based on book by Mexican American children’s author Duncan Tonatiuh, addresses themes of love of family, cultural traditions, and long, difficult journeys and will premiere on both sides of the border

 

For immediate release: June 22, 2024Contact: Diana DuMelle, ‭917-596-9359

bodhitreeconcerts@gmail.com San Diego, CA

 

Bodhi Tree Concerts today announced the most ambitious undertaking in its 13-year history: the commission of a new bilingual Spanish/English chamber opera, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, by Pulitzer Prize-winning and GRAMMY-nominated composer, San Diego’s own Anthony Davis, with a libretto by playwright and UCSD professor Allan Havis.

 

Slated to premiere in January 2026 in both San Diego and Tijuana, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote is based on the children’s book of the same name by award-winning Mexican-American author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh. An allegorical tale, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote brings to light the hardship and struggles facing families who seek to make better lives for themselves by crossing the border.

 

A young rabbit named Pancho, whose Papa travels north to find work and to earn money for his family, finds himself on a long journey. When Papa does not return as expected, young Pancho sets out on an adventure to find him. Pancho experiences many trials and dangers on his journey, but the story ends happily with a celebration when both finally return home.

 

Drawing on its established relationships with schools, libraries, arts educators, its colleagues at Opera de Tijuana, and an internationally respected artistic team, Bodhi Tree Concerts will highlight through words and music the important and misunderstood subjects of immigration and migrant life. Maria Teré Rique, general director of Opera de Tijuana, will act as co-presenter and liaison for the Tijuana performances and internationally renowned J. Ed Araiza will lead the production as Stage Director.

 

“Bodhi Tree Concerts is a small presenting organization, but with a clear mission and vision reaching large and ambitious goals,” says BTC co-founder and co-director Diana DuMelle. “There is a long history of activism through art that proves small groups get things done. We defy expectations and have consistently achieved artistic excellence that intersects the arts with our local and global communities. With the world-class creative team of Anthony Davis and Allan Havis at the helm and through the voices of children, we will change hearts and minds and bring truth, authenticity and humanity to our border community while putting a truly beautiful and unique new bilingual opera into the canon.”

 

“I am so excited to explore the world of Pancho Rabbit in an opera for children and adults,” says composer Anthony Davis. “In telling this story, I would like to explore the political and current issues of the border. I hope to strike a balance with the light-heartedness of the story and the children-friendly animal characters with the implied political world, all too familiar to adults. I hope the music can convey the lyricism and compassion that pervades the story and I hope to draw from the rich musical traditions of Northern Mexico. We intend to create a magical opera that lies between fantasy and the real that can be an Animal Farm for today. I am eager to work with Diana and Walter DuMelle of Bodhi Tree Concerts and director J. Ed Araiza, who also directed my opera The Central Park Five, in a project that will be presented on both sides of the border and will be especially meaningful for Southern California.”

 

“That an artist of the stature of Anthony Davis would create an opera from this source material is due to the work and passion of Diana and Walter DuMelle and their work with Bodhi Tree Concerts,” says director J. Ed Araiza. “That I am, gratefully, to direct it I owe to Anthony and to Diana and her trusting me to help bring this epic, anthropomorphic tale to the audiences in San Diego and Tijuana. The story is important, topical and timely, to remind us of the risks adults and children take in crossing the border and why they would need to take those risks; parents in search of food for their children and children in search of their parents and the comfort of their arms. A large part of my concept is to make the love and courage in the story clear without ignoring the danger the story is based on.

 

The Pancho Rabbit project will include a robust arts and education program with Kindergarten through college-age students attending schools proximate to the southern border. The program will include teaching artists in classrooms, mentor/mentees relationships, onstage performing opportunities, masterclasses, free performances and more.

 

The commission of Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

More details can be found here: https://www.panchorabbit.org.

 

About Anthony Davis: Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis is celebrated internationally for his operatic, orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Opera News calls him “a national treasure” for his pioneering music, while The New York Times recognizes him as one of the “great living American composers.” In the 2023-24 season, OPERA America inducted Davis into its Hall of Fame. Davis is best known for his eight operas. He uses music to address power structures in a way that creates awareness, empathy, and understanding. In 2020, Davis received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for The Central Park Five, which premiered at Long Beach Opera in 2019. In November 2023, Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, based on the life of the civil rights leader, debuted at the Metropolitan Opera. Davis’s orchestral works have been performed by the Atlanta Symphony, Boston Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and San Francisco Symphony, among others. Davis made his Broadway debut in 1993 composing music for Tony Kushner’s critically acclaimed play Angels in America: Part One: Millennium Approaches, and for its companion piece, Part Two: Perestroika. Restless Mourning, an oratorio for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble with live electronics, presents Davis’s powerful evocation of the September 11 tragedy, set to poetry by Quincy Troupe and Allan Havis, and Psalm 102. Davis currently holds the Cecil Lytle Endowed Chair in African American Music at the University of California, San Diego. In 2021, he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and most recently into the Opera Hall of Fame.

 

About Bodhi Tree Concerts: Now celebrating its 13th season, Bodhi Tree Concerts continues to uphold its mission of performing intentional acts of kindness through music. The organization hires exclusively local artists to inspire community engagement, philanthropy, and enlightenment through music. BTC has already presented more than 40 concerts and theatrical events and donated more than $40,000 to charitable organizations including Mama’s Kitchen, Voices for Children, Feeding San Diego, Foundation for Women, NAACP, and, World Central Kitchen, to name just a few. Bodhi Tree Concerts numerous awards including San Diego Bravo Award in 2013, a Best of Fringe Award in 2014, a Best of 2014 and 2015 from SanDiegoStory.com, a Critics Choice Award in 2015 for its SD Premiere of Tears of the Knife, a Best of Fest and Best Male Performer in an Opera or Musical: San Diego International Fringe Festival and a Craig Noel Award for Best Special Event for the San Diego premiere of 8 Songs for a Mad King. BTC won a second Craig Noel Award in 2018 alongside San Diego Opera and Sacra/Profana for their collaborative production of All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914.

For more information and press tickets please contact Diana DuMelle, ‭917-596-9359‬, bodhitreeconcerts@gmail.com.

 

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