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Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
December 8, 2004

Carnegie Mellon School of Music Presents the World Premiere of Professor Leonardo Balada's Opera "Death of Columbus" with the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic

8 p.m. Friday, January 14, 2005, in Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh

The world premiere of the "Death of Columbus," a full-length opera by Leonardo Balada (above), will take place Jan. 14, 2005, at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

PITTSBURGH—The world premiere of the "Death of Columbus," a full-length opera by Leonardo Balada, University Professor of Composition at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Music, will take place at 8 p.m. Jan. 14, 2005, at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

The Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, Carnegie Mellon Repertory Chorus and members of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh will perform along with professional soloists Jon Garrison, Andrea Hanson, Mimi Lerner and David Okerlund.

Music direction is by Robert Page, the Paul Mellon Professor of Music and director of choral studies at Carnegie Mellon's School of Music, and stage direction is by Gregory Lehane, professor of drama and music at Carnegie Mellon. In the days following the live performance, a studio recording will be made for the Naxos record label, which will be added to their ongoing series featuring Balada's compositions.

Balada was commissioned by the Spanish government to compose an opera to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus's famous voyage to America. "Christopher Columbus" premiered in Barcelona in 1986 starring José Carreras and Montserrat Cabelle. Called "a masterpiece" by the Washington Times, the opera received such international acclaim that Balada was soon asked by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Alicante International Music Festival to write a sequel. While "Christopher Columbus" takes place on the Santa Maria before land has been sighted, "Death of Columbus" is set on Columbus's tormented deathbed and features flashbacks from the years following his famous voyage.

"Columbus was very worried about his historical legacy. He was worried about what his discovery did in terms of the Spanish conquest of the Indies," said Balada, "In the opera I composed music based on his deathbed scenes. I created a story around a fictitious character that torments Columbus, which is, in fact, the voice of his conscience. The opera asks many questions about what the discovery meant for the world."

Balada has been teaching composition at Carnegie Mellon since 1970. He has studied at his native Barcelona's Conservatorio del Liceu, at Juilliard and with such celebrated musicians as Vincent Percichetti, Aaron Copland and Igor Markevitch. He is credited with pioneering a blend of ethnic music with the avant-garde techniques for which he became known in the 1960s.

Tickets for "Death of Columbus" will range from $5-10. For ticketing questions, please contact Amy Stabenow at 412-268-2383. For any other information, please contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or


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