The opera-musical “El Colibrí Mágico (The Magic Hummingbird) —A California Story” premiere performances were on June 2nd and 3rd, 2023 by Opera Tijuana

The venue was CEART, Tijuana, Mexico, Vía Rápida Oriente 15320 22226 Tijuana
Baja California, Mexico

The opera-musical “El Colibrí Mágico (The Magic Hummingbird) —A California Story”, is an updating of St. Francis.
It involves a trio of sheltered, upper-middle class So Cal teen rockers headed to Tijuana perform at a punk club and to explore Tijuana nightlife.
Their partying adventure takes a surreal turn when supernatural events
hurl them headlong into a community of refugees, who bear ancient secrets.

Mater Nostra

Our Mother Who Is Heaven
And Earth
And Us
And Everything All Around Us
Hallowed Be The Ground
Hallowed Be The Creatures
Mosses And The Trees
Sacred Is The Loam
Sacred The Worms In The Soil Beneath Our Feet
Sacred Are The Bees
And The Humans
Who Toil In The Garden
Amidst The Hibiscus In The Sun
Sacred The Grey Whales
Who Sing In The Sea
We Give This Day Clear Thoughts
Clear Air And Water
Clean Energy In The Day
Coolness At Dusk
Safety From Guns And Violence
We Bather This Day In Trust
We Sing This Day Together
In Communities Without Borders
Sing With The Whales
The Song Of The Sea
Sing With The Wolves
The Song Of The North
Sing With The Birds
The Song Of The Dawn And The Dusk
Sing With The Cicadas
The Song Of Seven Years
Sing With The Frogs
The Songs Of The Springtime
Sing With The Crickets And Grasshoppers
The Songs Of The Summer Night
We Stretch Our Eyes
Beyond Our Fingertips
To Accept Our Troubles
Accept Our Joys
Accept Each Other
Accept Ourself
With Patience
And Tread The Day
From Second To Moment
With Mindful Deliberation
Stepping Softly
Gentle Consideration
Practice Ecstasy
As A Backdrop To Our Consciousness
From Dream To Dawn
From Dawn To Dusk
From Breath To Breath
From Birth To Death

The June 18th, 2022 performance at The Cutting Room in NYC
was a world premiere in the form of an old-fashioned radio drama,

with live sound effects, voice actors,

singers, musicians and narration.


Cast for the Magic Hummingbird LIVE production On June 18. 

Lauren Haughton-Gillis, Director
Richard Dueñez Morrison, Music Director, Conductor
Barb Macz, stage manager
David Smith – sound effects, live foley

Rudy Alexander Giron, counter tenor,      “Francisco”
Karen Garcia, soprano, “Apolonia”, “Ixazaluoh,”
and Francisco’s mother, Spanish translation
Cat Rojo, alto, “Clara”
Leonard Patton, tenor, “Franklin”
Gustavo Alcoser, tenor, “Elias”, co-writer
Scene one, composer of mariachi music
Scene two.
Charles Coleman, baritone, “The Preacher
Philip Gomez, countertenor, plant spirit, refugee
Geoffrey Burleson, piano and accordion

Daniel Castro, guitar and mandolin, additional Spanish translation
and additional audio editing and recording.

Michael Jones, electric guitar
Andrew Michel, bass
Daniel Pate, percussion and drums
Todd Rewoldt, saxophone
Antotina Styczen, piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, nose flute

Joseph Waters, narrator, composer, librettist, lyricist, sound design.

Book by Joseph Martin Waters, Gustavo Alcoser and Michael Gillis

Story by Joseph Martin Waters

Based on the sacred poetry of Maria Sabina, from the opera “El Colibrí Mágico (The Magic Hummingbird) —A California Story”… This visual interpretation conceived by Mexican-American opera singer Karen Garcia, based on her experiences of Mexican curandera ceremonies and the ancient traditions interwoven into contemporary Mexican experience. The lyrics are based on the sacred psilocybin mushroom chants of Maria Sabina, a great healer and true saint, who lived in abject poverty in the mountains of Oaxaca.

While we were shooting in the moonlight and fog a young garden rat emerged from the bushes and stood there smiling with us.
It felt as if the tree and flowers were there with us, participating in their silent and majestic way.

Mater Nostra



The Magic Hummingbird – El Colibrí Mágico 

The opera, set in the present on the San Diego-Tijuana border, is a reprise of the Saint Francis story: a privileged youth who gives up a comfortable life for his spiritual quest. The opera’s protagonist is Francisco, a rising young San Diego rock musician who travels with his two close friends, band members Franklin and Clara, to perform at a punk club in Tijuana. 

On their journey, these San Diego-based rock musicians meet Elias, the leader of a group of refugees who have traveled north through Mexico from Central America, seeking asylum in the United States. The story’s magical realism will convey the refugees across  the border by way of a magic tunnel, the body of a giant snake buried thousands of years ago by the goddess of the moon. Elias and Francisco become lovers, and Francisco evolves from a spaced out, irresponsible youth into a compassionate leader who is willing to risk his life to help the refugees.    

Lying in wait for Francisco and the refugees on the U.S. side of the border, however, is a white separatist militia cult that practices spirit possession, speaking in tongues, and virtuoso drumming. The cult is led by a mad sociopath, The Preacher, and his musical henchman Maggot, Franklin’s father, a damaged, ambivalent shaman who has tried to raise his son Franklin while battling his own internal demons and drug addiction. Maggot, however, has true magic powers: he is able to understand the language of the crows.

The Preacher and Franklin learn from the Lord of the Crows that the refugees and the trio of Francisco, Franklin, and Clara will be showing up through this magic tunnel. The Preacher shows up with the militia to ambush them, but it’s a set up.The refugees and the trio had emerged the day before. 

Water that was placed at the tunnel exit for the refugees was destroyed, so the refugees are transformed into a family of saguaro cactuses, standing on a Mesa overlooking the ravine. Furious that the refugees are not appearing while his  militia awaits  them, The Preacher demands that Maggot shoot at a solitary crow perched on the arm of one of the saguaros. Hundreds of crows suddenly emerge from behind the saguaros, and in the melee that follows between the crows and the militia, a giant clap of thunder announces from the mouth of the cave the entrance of Ixazaluoh, the plant spirit in the form of a playful young girl that has haunted Francisco’s visions since childhood. Ignoring the militia, she chases a hummingbird up onto the Mesa, and around the saguaros casts an imaginary protective garment over them.

Above the saguaros, fierce thunderheads suddenly form, and when the frustrated  Preacher angrily shoots his AR-15 at the clouds, they burst, drenching the saguaros. Quenched, they transform back into humans, but a flash flood roars through the ravine and washes the militia and The Preacher into the magic tunnel. 

In the flood, Maggot manages to scale up on the ravine where he finds his son Franklin, now transformed back into human form, who pulls his father to safety. The following morning, the refugees and the trio find the abandoned pickups of the militia, keys left in the ignition, and escape into the heartland. 

 In addition to the real issues of the perils faced by refugees, the opera’s message is the need for compassion and forgiveness. 

Synopsis by Ken Herman