Projects

DON’T CHANGE MY NAME

Don’t Change My Name is a three-movement opera that conjures the spirit of an enslaved princess to honor the rich Arará tradition in Cuba.

  • Project Created By

    Elio Villafranca

    Born in the Pinar del Río province of Cuba, Steinway Artist, Grammy Nominated, and 2014 Jalc Millennium Swing Award! recipient pianist and composer Elio Villafranca was classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba.

  • Project Location
    New York, New York
  • Project Dates
    Start Date
    September 12, 2021
    End Date
    September 16, 2021

DON’T CHANGE MY NAME

Don’t Change My Name is a three-movement opera that conjures the spirit of an enslaved princess to honor the rich Arará tradition in Cuba.

Don’t Change My Name is a new opera for a live ensemble (piano, bass, drums, Batá and Arará percussion, horns, electric guitar, marimba) and 12-member choir that honors the rich yet often unheralded Arará tradition.

This compelling work draws inspiration from the life of Florentina Zulueta, who later became a champion for the Arará community in Cuba. Born in 1828 in Dahomey (now Benin), both her life and her name were never her own. As a little girl, she was first given the name “Tolo-Ño” while living in the Lucumí region (now Nigeria). While in Dahomey, she was forced into slavery and her name was once again changed to “Na-Tegué.” At 15, she was brought to Cuba, captured and sold to Julián de Zulueta y Amondo, a notorious slave owner in Perico, who branded her with a hot metal iron as his property and forever changed her name to Florentina Zulueta.

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