Arts & Events

AROUND & ABOUT OPERA: Premiere of ''The Lariat,' from the Novella by Berkeley Author Jaime De Angulo

Ken Bullock
Friday January 23, 2015 - 01:15:00 PM

Lisa Scola Prosek's new opera, ''The Lariat,' winner of the New York Center for Contemporary Opera's Atelier Award, based on Berkeley author Jaime De Angulo's novella--billed as "darkly comic"--about a Spanish priest and Essalen tribesmen in Big Sur and Carmel during the age of the California Missions, premieres at 8 tonight, Friday, January 23, with performances continuing this week and next Friday and Saturday. 

The composer/librettist will join the instrumental complement on piano, with her son, Ed Prosek, whose own music has been released in Europe and the States, playing trumpet. Jayne Wegner directs, Bruce Olstad conducting. Philip Skinner is featured in the role of father Luis, Crystal Philippi as Ishka, the Essalen woman. 

Jaime De Angulo, whose daughter and literary executrix Gui still lives in Berkeley, studied and lived with many California tribes during the 1920s-30s, associated for awhile with the UC Anthropological Department during its glory days. His writing, both fiction and nonfiction, was hailed by Ezra Pound, who called him ""the Ovid of North America," and helped get much of his literary work published posthumously. 

Pound, among others, considered ''The Lariat,' inspired by Mission era diaries in the Bancroft, Jaime's masterpiece. Shortly before his death in 1950, he read the manuscript of his children's book taken in part from mythic and legendary sCalifornia Native American stories, ''Indian Tales,' on KPFA, which still offers recordings of it for sale, available in some libraries. (One story, "The Gilak Monster," can be heard online: --scroll down to the two MP3s under ""New Series, Volume One, Issue One, 1975") Ironically, his work's now considered a major uncredited source for Carlos Castaneda's popular Don Juan series of books. 

Friday-Saturday at 8 through January 31, Thick House, 1695-18th Street(near Connecticut Street) on Potrero Hill, San Francisco.