UTEP Students to Travel to Bhutan to Produce First Western Opera

Students Will Work With Artists From Around the World for Historic Cultural Performance

What: Opera Bhutan sendoff

When: 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 29

Where: El Paso International Airport lobby

Thirty-three UTEP representatives – students, faculty and staff – will travel to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, nestled between China and India, for nearly three weeks beginning Sunday, Sept. 29.

Once in Bhutan, the group will work with Bhutanese dancers as well as artists from countries around the world, including Italy, Cameroon, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia and the United States, to produce and perform the first Western-style opera in Bhutan’s history.

Opera is a foreign concept to the Bhutanese people, who have remained geographically and culturally isolated from the rest of the world until very recently. UTEP’s production of the George Frideric Handel opera Acis and Galatea, in addition to being the first opera performed in Bhutan, will also be the first opera in the world to incorporate Bhutanese dance and cultural elements to create a brand new form of expression.

UTEP’s relationship with Bhutan began nearly 100 years ago when the first dean’s wife saw photos of the mountainous country in National GeographicMagazine and suggested to her husband that the school’s new buildings be designed in a similar architectural style. Today, the connection between the two countries has grown to include student and cultural exchanges.

Opera Bhutan is an example of the rich educational experiences available to UTEP students, who will have the opportunity to work with world-class musicians and artists whose professional and life experiences will impart to them invaluable insights and wisdom. In addition, students will experience firsthand a culture that has been isolated from much of the rest of the world for centuries.

During the trip, UTEP Director of Editorial Services Jenn Crawford will blog daily about the groups’ experiences at Bhutan.utep.edu/blog.