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Carla Lucero collaborating with  the Jon Sims Center for the Arts

Award: $35,000 Performing Arts grant awarded in 2000

Premiere:  June 22-24, 2001 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Collaborating with composer and librettist Carla Lucero, the Jon Sims Center for the Arts (JSC) produced Wuornos, an opera based on the real life story of Aileen Wuornos, a lesbian, sex worker, and serial killer who was on death row in Florida at the time the piece was developed.  Wuornos was a fully staged two-act opera with a live orchestra and cast of 21 singers.  The National Queer Arts Festival co-sponsored its premiere.

Like many operas, Wuornos was a tale of love, betrayal, and murder, but, according to Carla Lucero, “Among the core issues Wuornos explores, the repercussions of long term physical, emotional, and sexual abuse are most important.”  Lucero’s music, sung in English, achieved a complexity of styles and textures, representing the lead character’s fractured life.

Carla Lucero, previously had written a number of acclaimed works for dance and film, but Wuornos was her first completely self-determined compositional enterprise, her first libretto, and her first work requiring collective input from conductor Mary Chun and director Joseph Graves.  The project’s on-line producer was Lauren Hewitt, former Executive Director at the JSC.

Jon Sims Center for the Arts began in 1978 with Jon Sims’ formation of the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band, the first openly, public identified gay cultural and, art group in the world.  Two years after Sims died of AIDS in 1984, the San Francisco Band Foundation acquired a facility and named it in his honor. It operated as a multi-disciplinary arts presenter and service organization. Lucero began formal development of Wuornos during a residency at the Center.