Music: Daron Hagen  |  Words: Paul Muldoon

Touch of Evil is crossed with Under the Volcano in this searing, "soaringly eclectic" post-verismo retelling of the Bard's Othello set in the spiritual, physical, and ethical "liminal zone" of the Texas-Mexican border on the "Day of the Dead" in 1968. 

Miguel Morales (Othello) is the police chief of a small town on the USA-Mexico border. He is married to a mestizo woman named Mona (Desdemona). His lieutenant Jake (Iago) spends his off-duty hours spiriting people across the border illegally; Kane (a Caucasian labor organizer from Chicago) is stirring up trouble. The action centers on the wedding of Jake and Emily (Emilia), and features the unfortunate planting of Mona's bandanna by Kane and Jake in Cassidy's (Cassio) pocket, and the subsequent murder of Mona by her husband. Set on the "Day of the Dead," the opera's unifying concept is the idea of the borderlines between emotional, metaphysical and moral states.

Butler Opera Center photo

Butler Opera Center photo


  • Duration: 2 Acts / 120 mins.
  • Premiere: 25 February 1999 / McCullough Theater, Austin, Texas / University of Texas Opera Theater / Michael Haithcock
  • Notable Performances: American Concert Premiere: 3 March 2000  / Ham Concert Hall, Las Vegas, Nevada  / UNLV Opera Theater and Orchestra / Daron Hagen; European Concert Premiere: 26 April 2006 / Parr Hall, Warrington, UK / North Cheshire Concert Band; Manchester Chamber Choir; RNCM Soloists / Mark Heron
  • Commissioned by the College Band Directors National Association.
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Butler Opera Center photo

Butler Opera Center photo


major roles

  • Miguel Morales (tenor)
  • James Kane (dramatic baritone)
  • Jake Lopez (baritone)
  • Mona Morales (soprano)
  • Cassidy (bass-baritone)
  • Emily (mezzo-soprano)

supporting roles (drawn from the chorus)

  • Leader (tenor)
  • Two Mariachi Singers (men or women)

mixed chorus (12+ voices)



Band Version (29 players)

2 fl (2 picc, afl), 2 ob (Eng hrn), 3 cl (bcl), bcl, 2 bsn, ssax, asax, tsax, barsax, 2 tpt (fglhrn), 2 hrn, euph (opt), 2 tbn, tba, 3 db, timp, perc, pf, hp; onstage mariachi band

Large Orchestra Version (44 players)

2(I,II=picc).2(II=CA).2(I=Eb;II=bcl).2- players)

Small Orchestra Version (34 players)

2(I,II=picc).2(II=CA).2(I=Eb;II=bcl).2- players

European Concert Premiere in Warrington, England

European Concert Premiere in Warrington, England


The making of the opera by Daron Hagen and Paul Muldoon.

Hagen’s wholly convincing modern operatic style style encourages audiences to be actively involved in constructing their own meanings from the richness of the textual and musical cross-references in his work.
— Catherine Parsonage, Winds Magazine, UK