The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The melodious version of ‘Plata Quemada’

SMU’s Meadows and Dedman schools collaborated to transition a novel into an Opera

SMU theater students took the stage this weekend performing an opera to “Plata Quemada,”” a novel by Argentinian writer Ricardo Piglia.

Titled “Plata Quemada: Money to Burn,” Meadows students John McAfee and Joseph Scott from, along with the Department of World Languages and Literatures, wrote the libretto: words set to music.

The initial concept of the Opera was an excerpt from Piglia’s novel, which later grew to include the whole novel.

Thus “Plata Quemada” encompasses SMU music, dance composition and Latin American literature courses.

“This is a collaborative project between Meadows and Dedman and as far as I know it is the first time ever that a group of mostly if not only undergraduate students undertake the production of an opera,” SMU professor Francisco Moran said.

Staying true to the essence of opera, the production was gritty, raw, and filled with romance.

The workshop performance was a first for the theater students who had only a week to rehearse.

The story follows a passionate yet disturbed relationship between two men, who are lovers.

The plot also includes harsh criminals and their attempt to flee the country of Argentina to the border of Uruguay after robbing a bank.

Artistic director Alyssa Veteto said, “You are going to the see some of the actors with scores. This is a work in progress and that is what we are showing. This is a long process whenever you are bringing a new piece to the stage.”

Despite its very basic nature, the performance communicated strong societal messages of sexuality, gender, financial and economic issues, and the penile system.

The performance also incorporated variant musical elements.

At times parts of the music , or just the libretto, were heard.

“I tried to capture the essence of the novel, which is an incredible piece of literature, and it is so complicated that it was really difficult to get all the different aspects of it,” McAfee said.

That is something I will have to continue working on as we take this production further.”

With only one week of rehearsing using music, and costumes, the set of the production was admirable.

The opera combined the backgrounds of the characters to provide cause for their actions but it only scratched the surface.

“It was a fast-and-furious process and it’s been pretty stressful,” cast member and junior Laura Smolik said. “But I think, for what it is, we did a really good job. It was a really good learning experience as well.”


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