"The Land of Honey" by Hilda Paredes

When Pablo Gómez and Susan Narucki asked me to participate in this project I felt immediately excited to take part as the subject matter has been one of great interest to me. Previously in my opera El Palacio Imaginado I have addressed social and political issues like the abuse of women in Latin America in particular in Mexico.

In Cuatro Corridos I saw the possibility to try to give a voice to the hundreds of Mexican women who have been murdered along the border between the US and Mexico.

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The text of Jorge Volpi also gave me the possibility to address the issue of what I call self-colonialism imbedded in the minds of so many Mexicans who believe life is better across the border or anywhere else for that matter than in their own country. This is why I chose to highlight one of Volpi’s verses as a title for my piece: La tierra de la miel (The land of honey.) These are the words that Iris’ father tells her to persuade her to go away with the men who will ultimately rape her and force her into prostitution across the border.

As Violeta tells the story of her friend Iris, the musical dramaturgy addresses the overwhelming impact of the abuse suffered by women by means of destroying the language as a way to reflect an inner world, which has become powerless and meaningless. After rape or murder, the words get split between all the performers, as if trying to say something but without being able to articulate properly after such an abusive experiences.

At the end of the piece we hear the voice of the dead Iris, who sings in Náhuatl, her mother tongue. Often such girls come from indigenous communities with very few prospects for a better life. While her body rests amongst the fields of strawberries, her voice sings from another world, wishing to return to her homeland and the comfort of her mother.