Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance

Graham Reynolds

Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance is an experimental chamber opera for two singers and six instrumentalists using a hybrid of compositional techniques, including looping and sampling in Ableton Live, overdubbed layers of vocals, and remixes by Mexican electronic artists. The piece is told from two perspectives: the opera opens with Pancho Villa’s assassination and then takes place in his mind in the milliseconds as he’s dying; simultaneously, a woman on an American hotel rooftop observes the war taking place in Mexico right across the river through her opera glasses. Exploring facts from Villa’s biography while also examining the myths and lies, the opera will ask what the near-archetype that is “Villa” means to Mexican culture and American culture, and where these meanings intersect and conflict.