A Galactic Arts/Music Newsletter










         NOT ALLOWED!!!

                               by Judy Jones













       Gender mentioned in this enlightened age?

            Not by me until I learned the last time the

            New York City Opera commissioned a

            female composer for an opera was 1903!


       Hard to believe?  Even harder after attending

           "Wuornos" an opera by Ms. Carla Lucero in

           San Francisco in 2001.


       Carla's music ripped thru me like a bolt of

           lightening and by the time I left her opera,

           tears rolled down my cheeks and my heart

           was wide open.


      I was changed forever after attending

           "Wuornos".    Not just by the music,

           but also because Carla was the first female

           opera composer I had ever heard of!

      I thought females weren't allowed to compose

           such lofty things as  'opera'.


       Why hadn't I ever attended an opera by

            a female composer before now and why

            wasn't this opera being presented at the

            San Francisco Opera House!


            I may never know the answers to those

           questions but thanks to Ms. Lucero women

            composers have made an evolutionary leap

            towards reaching their loftiest stars!


            Carla Lucero is destined to become

            one of the best opera composers of our

           century and the interview that follows

           gives us insight into a most gifted mind!


           How do   'The Gods'  decide on whom

           to bestow such prestigious gifts as

           those of opera composing?


            I didn't promise miracles when I

           started   "ON THE ROAD WITH JUDY!"

           and don't have that answer, but if

            you do please let all the readers of

            "On the Road With Judy!" know!




                        OPERA COMPOSER CARLA LUCERO

                        IS DEDICATED TO THE SILENCED

                        VOICES OF FEMALE COMPOSERS

                        THRUOUT HISTORY

                        MAY THEY SPEAK FOREVER MORE




Carla have you started

 your autobiography?



No, I've never even thought about doing that. 

Maybe many years from now, when I have a

larger body of work.



How old were you when you first

started composing?



I probably always composed

on some level, whether it was creating

melodies as a toddler or writing little

songs after I began piano lessons at

five years old.  I only started composing

serious music when I switched my college

major from piano to composition.


              Carla Lucero age 3



Are your parents musicians/composers

or artists of other kinds?



Neither of my parents are professional

musicians, but my Father played the clarinet

in his childhood and my Mother sang in the

church choir for years.  I was raised in a home

where there was music playing all the time,

from western classical music, to Indian music.

My father introduced me to opera

when I was a baby.



Did your parents encourage your music?



Yes. they always encouraged me

to continue with music.  They recognized my

love and aptitude for it at a very early age.



Do you have brothers and sisters?

And if so, are you middle, youngest,

 or oldest, etc.?



 I have one sister and one brother. 

 I am the oldest.



 When did you start composing your

 first opera?



"Wuornos"  was my first opera.

I began writing the libretto and composing

the music in 1996.  It took five years

to complete.



Have you started on another one?



Yes, I'm working on a new opera

about the famous 17th Century Latin American


Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz.

She was an amazing individual.



                    Carla and her favorite 

              Mezzo Soprano, Karen Feder

                   who is singing role of

                 Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz




 Because of the fate of

 Aileen Wuornos have you any plans

 to redo the opera with a

different ending?



No.  The ending was intentionally

ambiguous, but it showed the reality

of what could have and did happen

in the end.


(Carlas first opera  "Wuornos"  was

 based on the true story of a prostitute

 Eileen Wuornos, who was recently

 executed for murdering six men.

Eileen is becoming a cult figure

with a huge following)



When did you first realize that

being a female opera composer was a tough

role or perhaps it isn't to you.



IMMEDIATELY!!!!!     I found that

many people were either totally patronizing

or skeptical at first, without even hearing my

music.  There are a lot of assumptions made

about women composers.


The classical music world is still totally

dominated by men.  Women usually play

supporting roles, as they do in the

outside world.  I sometimes refer to this

syndrome as the  "lead ceiling."



I haven't heard of another

female opera composer and I read

the last time the New York City Opera

commissioned a piece by a woman

was in 1903!  Certainly there have

been many operas written

by women before and after that.

What happened to their works Carla?



This is the saddest thing.

For centuries, the very few

women who even ventured to

compose realized quickly

that they would receive little

or no support for their talents

or efforts.  Rarely, would their

pieces be performed.  The best

chance they had to have their

music heard was to be able to

perform it themselves or with

a friend or two.  This is why so

much of what we have from

women composers (to this day)

is in the form of solo piano

pieces, or small ensembles.



Clare Schumann quit composing

to promote her husband Robert

Schumann's compositions and I

saw a film about Ana Mahler the

wife of composer Gustav Mahler. 

He asked her to give up composing

and concentrate on his career. 

She did.  Would you ever consider

giving up your music for another

persons works?



Absolutely not!  Music is a

calling for me.  I don't know who

I am without it. I don't think anyone

would want to be around me if

I wasn't composing.  I am also

very project oriented.  I always

need large projects to work

on.  I've had to explain this before

getting involved with someone

 romantically.  They either understand

and become supportive, or they

 are in denial, find out with their

own two eyes and then run!



I think of Hypatia who

one of the most intelligent

 women to have graced earth. 

 She was stoned to death and

 her skin flayed from her body with

abalone shells upon the orders of a monk

who was jealous of her gifts. 

             Hypatia of Alexandria


Do you think attitudes towards women,

especially gifted ones, will change?



I think this has to start with

women, themselves.  We have to be

supportive of each other.  Jealously is so

destructive and counter-productive to our

advancement.  Once we get that fact

and start behaving accordingly, then

we will have the men to contend with.

I think men, in general, don't see women

as threats.  I, though, did encounter some

jealously from male composers, but I really

think this stemmed from their sense of




When I started jogging twenty years

ago I read that the first woman ever to run

a marathon was in the 1960's and she had

to dress as a man to enter the race since

women were not allowed to run them!  She

was a pioneer.  Since you have escaped the

traditional female roles and forged ahead

as a brilliant composer, do you consider

yourself a   'trailblazer',   'a pioneer'  for

women composers Carla?



You are so complimentary.

I'm not so sure I deserve all that credit! 

There were many women composers that

came before me who struggled more than

I did and received much less attention.

Their efforts really paved the

way for women like me.  I know that I am

something of an anomaly, though, because

I chose opera as my art form.


I had many, many talented, bright and

ambitious people behind me who

believed in my work.  I think this was

essential in bringing   "Wuornos"  to

the stage with a full production.  On

a side note, I too ran a marathon last

year.  It was the Honolulu Marathon. 

I ran for the San Francisco AIDS

Foundation.  I'm going to do it

again.  Want to join me?


          Carla and her running partner

           Tim Kuster, after the 2002

                  Honolulu Marathon



I would love to although

due to some surgery on my large toes

I am extremely slow and fall alot

without my big toes for balance.

But I always finish a race even

if I come in last (which I did once!).


I wrote a poem title


about having to run ten miles,

bike and swim three in order to get

the testosterone pumping in me so I

can compete in this  'Male Society!'




Carla would you rather

work professionally with men or women

or does it matter?



Good question.  It really

depends on the situation and the roles

people are playing in a project.  With

Wuornos, I tried to choose the most

talented people with a similar vision

to mine.  It was a pretty mixed bag,

gender-wise.  In the end, I think gender

is my last consideration.



Who are some of your mentors?



Sadly, I've only studied under

male composers.  They are supremely

talented, but it would have been more

inspiring for me to have studied with

a few women too.  My composer mentors

were Morton Subotnik, Rand Steiger,

Lucky Moscow and Leonard Rosenmann.

My piano mentor was Leonid Hambro.



Who is your favorite opera

composer and what is your favorite opera?

(besides your own,  "Wuornos"  which is mine!)



Again you are too kind!

My favorite opera composers are:  Verdi

(overall, especially the way he weaves

his beautiful melodies into a seamless

tapestry).  Berg (for his absolute genius

in following natural speech patterns

and then exaggerating them into

a very warped, yet highly emotional

melodic line, and his mastery of 12-tone

music) and Stravinsky  (rhythm, power,

momentum).  My very favorite opera is

Berg's   "Wozzeck".



Do you use a computer to

compose Carla?



No.  I'm totally primitive.  It

feels too unnatural.  I'm a scribbler.



Why do you think Aileen

Wuornos, the woman your opera 

"Wuornos"  was  based on is

reaching a cult-like status

in the world?



This question makes me so sad. 

 When Aileen was first arrested

in 1991, she was labeled  "the First Female

Serial Killer".  That grabbed a lot of headlines.

She hadn't been convicted of anything

yet, but many people had a lot of deals

riding on that title  -  her lover,

some of the detectives on the case,

her lawyer, the woman who adopted her

and various in-betweens who were trying

 to capitalize on her notoriety.  Then, after

 her six death sentences, there was

a lull in the attention.


She came back into the news in 2001

when she tried to stop the appeals

process for herself, (which coincided

with the premier of my opera), and

there was silence again until her

execution last fall.  Now she is back

in the news because of yet another

Hollywood movie coming out

about her.


The title of this film is so distasteful

and disrespectful  -  "Monster".

A & E did a biography about her

as well.  They showed a blip of my

opera.  I haven't seen the segment yet,

but from what the producer said

in the beginning, they will be

concentrating on her entire life.  This

is the only reason I allowed them to use

the footage.



Are you involved with the

Womens Philharmonic Orchestra

in San Francisco?



They took a look at my opera

when it was in the early stages of

pre-production & opted out.

I think the Women's Philharmonic is a

fairly conservative outfit.



          You are a woman ahead

of her time Carla,  scaling mountains

few have dared.  What is your advice to

other women composers  who want to

reach the summits and breath the same

air as male composers?



DON'T GIVE UP!   Use adversity

to fuel the passion in your art. 

 Believe in your music and only

compete with yourself to do the best

 you can.  Be confident and surround

yourself with people who believe in you. 

Also, set concrete goals to have your

music performed.  The added pressure

of deadlines and having to share your

creations with the public pushes you

that much harder.



 What do you see yourself doing

  twenty years from now?



I'll be composing until the

day I die.  Hopefully, I'll be writing

another opera or symphony that

an opera company or symphony

commissions fully, so that I can concentrate

only on the project.



Have you ever thought of

moving to Prague where there are

three or four opera houses and

classical musicians playing all

over the streets?  Or relocating to

another European city such as

Italy where opera is immensely popular?



Funny you should ask that.

I am fascinated with Prague.   I would also

consider moving to Amsterdam.  My

heart is in Europe.  A lot of

my artistic sensibilities are European.

The United States is a cold place to

be an artist of any sort and its

getting even colder with all the

arts funding being cut.  I have been

fortunate in the past with art funders.

We'll see how far I get with this

next opera I'm working on.



      What does Carla do to

replenish her soul and spirit when "Wuornos".

you feel you've not an ounce of energy

to keep going?  What is the secret that

keeps you  'reaching for your highest

star'   when others stop before reaching




         Friends and family.  I also love

traveling.  Reading is great too,

but I only read for pleasure when I'm on

vacation.  I was lucky to have a very

supportive partner during the hectic

periods of production with   "Wuornos".

That was a bonus and kept me centered.

My feet aren't usually planted too firmly

on the ground during the creative process,

let alone during the craziness of production.


       Carla and her nieces, Hannah & Mirauda



Its said   "The Gods"

give out the gifts of musical

composition to only a chosen few. 

 Do you feel chosen Carla?



Wow!  How can I answer

that question?  I guess I've always

had a calling for music.  My parents

recognized it when I was a baby,

and I just knew it all through my life.

As far as being chosen,  well, I believe

in God, and I think we are all chosen

to do what we are supposed to do,

eventually, so I am doing what I'm

supposed to do now.


                    Does that mean I'm chosen?





                          Carla Lucero's original scoring of her opera  






                         CARLA LUCERO

                    OPERA COMPOSER
















                        "ON THE ROAD WITH JUDY!"


             A Galactic Arts/Music Newsletter



Works published on this website are protected
under domestic and international copyright laws
and are not considered to be public domain.
If you are interested in having publishing rights,
would like to exhibit my pictures, or buy a print
please email me:








This website is possible thanks

to the computer expertise and

generous spirit of webdesigner

         Doug Rees