Press for Pepito - Washington National Opera

We’ve been very happy that Pepito has been very warmly received in the press! Here are some articles and excerpted phrases:

”So “Pepito” got pride of place. It wasn’t just because dogs and children tend to steal the show. It was because Nicolas Lell Benavides, the composer, and Marella Martin Koch, the librettist, found a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines. We got, right away, the dynamic between the young couple, he a workaholic, she looking for more connection, both well sung by the bright tenor Joshua Blue and the soprano Alexandra Nowakowski. We got the officious woman at the shelter (Alexandra Christoforakis), exasperated, one could infer, by unserious would-be adopters. And we got the dog. Weiser played a person playing a dog, evoking the animal rather than crawling around on all fours; when called on to kiss Camila, rather than licking her hand, he took her in his arms and dipped her in good old-fashioned musical-comedy tradition. At the end, the clueless husband, seeing the effect the dog had on his wife, got a clue, and they all went off together. I won’t say it avoids cliche altogether. But I will say that it worked.”
Anne Midgette, Washington Post

“The most entertaining show of the fledgling trio of operas was Pepito, in large part, no doubt, because the titled character was a big, shaggy dog, — a role sung, howled and barked effectively by Samuel Weiser.  But what started as what I thought might be a gimmick demonstrated as it went on a growing understanding of methodical approach and material by the young creative team.

Koch and composer Nicolas Lell Benavides took on the adventure of writing in English and Spanish. Benavides not only wrote music that used repetition of musical theme and melody but, in cannily crafting a (somewhat) bilingual story, employed the setting of gorgeous Spanish vowels, giving a nod to classical opera’s multi-lingual canon. Pepito’s doggy answer to everything is snuggling up with a bass howl of “Te quiero.” The phrase, especially repeated in the ensemble singing, was both a send up of opera and at the same time a profound truth, offering an answer to all our troubles.”
Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene

”A lighter comic tone distinguished the third world premiere, Pepito, with music by Nicolas Lell Benavides and libretto by Marella Martin Koch. The title character is a dog abandoned in a shelter, whose first lines are barks and whines, eventually becoming words. …

Benavides achieved the greatest variety of textures and sounds in this accomplished score, with hints of Latin percussion and an affecting love duet between a girl and her dog-to-be.”
Charles T. Downey, Washington Classical Review

“Of the three twenty-minute operas, the Dresser's favorite was the comic opera Pepito about a somewhat mismatched couple who shows up last minute at an animal shelter wanting to adopt a dog, preferably a puppy... The music, especially the duet about "the right dog" that is between Camila (soprano Alexandra Nowakowski) and Pepito, lingers in memory.”
Karren LaLonde Alenier, Scene4

Nick Benavides