“This chapter depicts Orlando’s farewell to LA and the ghost of his wife Sarita, who we meet in the animation directly preceding this. The limo here sets the tone for a funeral as it drives through Evergreen Cemetery. Two violas accompany their farewell as Sarita exits and stays among the gravestones. As the car drives, Sarita appears elsewhere in the cemetery played by another performer (the dancer Carrie Mikuls). One by one the car empties…but it doesn’t end mournfully. A guitarist enters the empty car and sings Lucha Reyes’ ballad ‘Por un amor’ as the car completes its journey.
“We left Mexico in search of adventure. Lovers with a collection of one-way tickets. Until we ended here, in a city so vast and gray. But still we saw its color and its magic. Driving with you down these streets and highways felt endless. All we needed was each other. In you, I saw myself. In you, I saw the man I could become. The world felt smaller. And I knew that I belonged.”
“The original concept was going to be for musicians and singers to be all around the cemetery, which audiences would hear via wireless microphones and Sennheiser antennae (like in Chapter 2, Chapter 19, and Chapter 22). But Evergreen Cemetery was the site that gave us the most trouble of any: they never, ever responded to any attempts to reach out to them, even ones officially placed by the Mayor’s office or Councilmember Huizar’s staff. We started reading alarming articles about the owner’s involvement in money laundering and evading the law – which is probably why no one ever returned my calls or responded to my visits to the office. Maybe they thought I was trying to serve the owner papers, and the opera was an elaborate ploy to bring him out. Finally, when the secretary ignored my physical presence in the office in one of the most surreal circumstances I’ve ever experienced, I realized we weren’t going to get anywhere using the cemetery officially.
“Veronika and I worked out an alternative scenario in which all the musicians were in the car, and the limo drove around the cemetery’s perimeter (on normal streets) instead. We went ahead planning for that, but as we got closer to the rehearsal, it was starting to feel too much like a compromise – driving inside the cemetery was obviously so much more powerful. So we decided, ‘Why not try it and see if anyone notices what we’re doing? Maybe if they come out to stop us we may actually be able to talk to someone about it! Maybe with all the musicians in the car they would never notice us?’ So we thought…and in fact we were right. We ended up driving through the cemetery nearly 300 times over 6 weeks of rehearsals and performances without anyone ever noticing.
“As if this scene weren’t already challenging, the additional complication to the team was figuring out the picking up and dropping off of the singers and musicians. We needed a second vehicle – I dubbed it ‘the getaway car’ considering our renegade approach to the cemetery – that followed the limo and picked up the performers as they left, and made sure everyone was together again for the start of the next rotation. Sounds easy enough on paper, maybe, but the communication between two different vehicles driving through a cemetery that we didn’t have authorization to use only contributed to the madness of this particular scene. A major kudos the assistant stage manager of this chapter, Meredith Kitz, who kept this relay race on track and on time.”