On June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Kennedy had just won the California primary due in large part to the work of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers. Dolores is the story of this influential woman who was able to continue the fight for civil rights through the tragedy and disappointment of the loss of her candidate. The composer is a cousin to Huerta and has spent time with her, learning her story, which adds an extraordinary personal element to it.
Nicolas Lell Benavides, Composer
Nicolas Benavides is a composer and conductor who has worked with groups such as the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, West Edge Opera, Nashville Opera, New Opera West, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Friction Quartet, and Nomad Session.
Marella Martin Koch, Librettist
Marella Martin Koch has worked with Barrington Stage Company, Catwalk Institute, Music of Remembrance, Nashville Opera, The Rally Cat, Shreveport Opera, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, UCLA School of Music, and Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center.
Dolores Sing Sample
dolores The Proposal
with Brian Rosen, Emilie Whelan & Michael Morgan
Artist Interview: Dolores
with Michael Morgan, Emilie Whelan ,
Nicolas Benavides & Marella Martin Koch
InFocus Issue 13: Dolores
Reading List: Dolores
Get to know them: First Opera Stories
previous work samples
Benavides & martin koch introduce
Benavides & martin koch introduce
nicolas Benavides introduces
Nicolas Lell Benavides Bio:
Nicolas Lell Benavides’ music has been praised for finding “…a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines…” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post) and cooking up a “jaunty score [with] touches of cabaret, musical theater and Latin dance.” (Tim Smith, OPERA NEWS). He has worked with groups such as the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, West Edge Opera, Nashville Opera, New Opera West, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Friction Quartet, and Nomad Session. He aspires to be a storyteller through music, frequently drawing on his Nuevomejicano roots and culture. His interview with i care if you listen (.com) about the importance of culture in music was widely shared.
Nick’s work with librettist Marella Martin Koch has produced a number of operatic collaborations. In addition to its premiere at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with The Washington National Opera, Pepito has been or will be performed by The Glimmerglass Festival, New Opera West, Nashville Opera, Shreveport Opera, and Texas Christian University Opera Studio. Music of Remembrance has commissioned a new opera from Nick and Marella called Tres Minutos, which is slated to premiere in 2022.
Recent or upcoming premieres include a new cycle called Canto Caló for New Moon Duo, a narrated story piece called Ocho Bendiciones for Nomad Session, and Rinconcito for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. He workshopped scenes from his new opera Gilberto at The Glimmerglass Festival in conjunction with the young artist program as well as West Edge Opera as part of their Snapshot series. He was recently awarded a Presser Foundation grant to record Pepito with the original cast.
He was a fellow of the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Nick was the first ever Young Artist Composer in Residence at the Glimmerglass Festival. He was previously composer in residence with Nomad Session and Elevate Ensemble. He also held residencies at Avaloch Farm in New Hampshire, and at the Visby International Composers Centre in Visby, Sweden.
Nick has studied composition primarily with Donald Crockett, Andrew Norman, Ted Hearne, Dan Becker, David Conte, and Kurt Rohde and has studied music at Santa Clara University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the University of Southern California. He has also worked with Gabriela Lena Frank, Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Nico Muhly, Jake Heggie, and Gene Scheer. He was the managing director of Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Academy of Art University, and a teaching artist with the San Francisco Opera.
Marella Martin Koch Bio:
Marella Martin Koch is a librettist, lyricist, and director originally from Los Angeles. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, she was a Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholar and wrote and performed sketches for the student group Theatre Charity. Her first ten-minute play, Circle of Friends, was produced by PianoFight Los Angeles and Theatre Mab Town Hall at Theatre Asylum. Her first full-length play, Fugue for Edgar Allan Poe, received a workshop at The Electric Lodge.
She received a scholarship and earned an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, where she wrote book and lyrics for the full-length musical Danny & The Rocket, which won the Pocono Mountains Music Festival Developmental Lab and received developmental support through Tisch New Musical Theatre Workshop and the TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Writers Retreat. As President of the Tisch Graduate Student Organization, she co-founded and produced the Tisch Talks lecture series with master artists and served on the NYU Presidential Search Committee, which appointed current NYU President Andrew Hamilton.
In 2018, she was commissioned by Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative to write the comedic one-act opera Pepito with composer Nicolas Lell Benavides. Pepito premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2019 and was recognized in the Washington Post for its “complete characters in swift, sure lines,” and praised for its libretto’s “cleverness in constructing humor for opera” (DC Theatre Scene). Selections from Gilberto, her first full-length opera with Benavides, have been developed by The Glimmerglass Festival, New Opera West, and West Edge Opera’s Snapshot series. Tres Minutos, a one-act opera also written with Benavides, was commissioned by Music of Remembrance and will premiere in 2022.
She has also written numerous short operas, musicals, and monologues, most notably Adam & Eve (The Duplex, The Kraine, Catwalk Institute, Access Theater), How Love Feels (Barrington Stage Company, Common Man Musicals, National Asian Artists Project: Discover New Musicals), I Celebrate (NYU Opera Lab’s “Park and Bark” with The American Opera Project), and The Dashwood Sister Song Cycles (UCLA School of Music, Opera America, SUNY Plattsburgh Jane Austen and the Arts Conference, Yale School of Music, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council 2020 Creative Engagement Awardee).
As a director, Marella specializes in new work and has directed readings, concerts, and productions throughout Los Angeles and New York, most recently at Dixon Place, Hudson Theatre’s Dress Circle Lobby, The Tank NYC, and Two River Theater. In 2019, she was a guest lecturer in libretto-writing for doctoral composition and master’s playwriting students at UCLA School of Music. Since 2018 she has been a guest director for the NYU/Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. She also teaches Shakespeare, improvisation, and songwriting to middle and high school students with Classic Stage Company, Manhattan Youth, and The Rally Cat.
Commissioned by the Washington National Opera at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and performed in the 2018/2019 season,
With Samuel J. Weiser (bass), Joshua Blue (tenor), Alexandra Nowakowski (soprano), Alexandra Christoforakis (mezzo-sop), Emma McCartney (flute/pic), Holly Hu (oboe), Max Opferkuch (clarinet, b. clar.), Lieza Hansen (bassoon), Matthew Lee Otto (horn), Cameron Wilkins (trumpet), Aiden Ritchie (trombone), Mary LeBlanc (percussion), You Zhao (piano), Kate Outterbridge (violin), Nicholas Bentz (violin), Erica Zappia (viola), Javier Iglesias-Martin (cello), Rebecca Lawrence (double bass)
WEO Credits: -Aléxa Anderson as Elena, Linda Baird as The Bartender, Nicolas A. Garcia as Gilberto, Chad Somers as Campbell, Jason Sarten as Guapo
Conductor: Jonathan Khuner
Directed by Ellen Jackson, Choreography by Jorrell Lawyer-Jefferson
Nicholas Davis as Guapo, Camron Gray as Campbell,
Jasmine Harris - Dancer, Danielle Jackman - Dancer, Joshua Kring-Dancer
Lindsay Metzger as The Bartender, Christian Sanders, Kayla Siembieda, Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa,
Wm. Clay Thompson as Marshall, Schyler Vargas as Gilberto, Ariana Wehr as Elena, Dmitry Glivinskiy - Pianist
Ben Schaefer, Baritone and Kirill Kuzmin, Pianist