Susan Narucki: Cuatro Corridos
A scene from Cuatro Corridos
Photo by Jim Carmody

Susan Narucki, Professor of Music at UC San Diego, received a 2011 UC MEXUS faculty grant for Cuatro Corridos, a chamber opera addressing the issue of human trafficking. Based on true events, the opera narrates the plight of women trapped in a cycle of prostitution and slavery in and around the San Diego/Tijuana border region and represents an unprecedented collaboration between internationally acclaimed U.S. and Mexican based creative artists.

A mural of images from Cuatro Corridos
Photo by Susan Narucki

Led by Narucki, also a Grammy Award winning soprano, and noted Mexican author Jorge Volpi, the fully-staged production featured original music by composers Hilda Paredes, Arlene Sierra, Lei Liang and Hebert Vázquez. Each composer gives voice to one of four female characters by presenting one act in the hour-long drama. As the title of the opera suggests, the libretto is in verse, generally the lines of four feet typical of the Northern Mexican ballads known as corridos.

Three sold out world premiere performances at Conrad Prebys Experimental Theater at UCSD in May of 2013 met with immediate critical acclaim from both the LA Times and San Diego Union Tribune. Free educational public events including a panel discussion with the composers and a forum featuring respected regional experts on human trafficking were scheduled in conjunction with the opera’s opening weekend. These events created a novel atmosphere for collaboration and communication between experts, artists, and the public.

As Cuatro Corridos travels both nationally and internationally, the team hopes to expand efforts to shed light on the issue in creative ways such as exhibits, bi-lingual literature, a comprehensive website, tools for taking action, outreach in affected communities, and more opportunities for the public to meet with and learn from experts on human trafficking.

Currently the Cuatro Corridos team has formed a bi-national partnership with IMAC (the Municipal Institute for Art and Culture in Tijuana) to promote a free performance scheduled on September 28, 2013 in the historic 400-seat Casa de Cultura Theater in Tijuana. An upcoming performance and public events are also scheduled for October 4, 2013 at Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas.

Additional information about the opera, the composers, and the performers can be found on the Cuatro Corridos website, Professor Narucki’s faculty page, or the UC MEXUS grant webpage for the project.

Susan Naruki performing a scene from Cuatro Corridos
Photo by Jim Carmody