“This was one of the central chapters of Hopscotch, and in its unusual form, became a stand-in for the entire project. We get in the car with Lucha, played by Maria Elena Altany. She picks up a blue rotary phone and hears a very mysterious voice; she can’t quite tell what the voice is even trying to say. Then she hears the line,
“A thousand streets lead into one great road, and no gate blocks your way.”
“She doesn’t know what this could mean or how the person on the other end could know so much about her. On this side of the phone call, the scene is very emotional and turbulent, since it brings back all the suffering from the loss of her family – coinciding with a drive through the neighborhood of her childhood.
There is enough road in Los Angeles to pave an eight lane highway all the way to New York City
Soprano Maria Elena Altany speaks about how singing in Hopscotch and for The Industry is different than performing in other operas.
Photograph by Angie Smith for The New Yorker
“Mandy, Marc and I went back and forth several times on what the mysterious riddle would be that would accompany Lucha for the rest of her life. The line about the thousand streets ended up leaping off the page to me when I was reading K.T. Berger’s book Zen Driving; Berger used a quote from the Zen Buddhist monk Mumon which read: ‘The great path has no gates, thousands of roads enter it. When one passes through this gateless gate he walks freely between heaven and earth.’ I instantly knew that would be the basis for the mysterious riddle at the core of this scene and this entire work.
“I was originally hoping that Maria Elena and Suzanna Guzmán in Chapter 35 would sing this piece live to each other in two different cars on two different routes (this chapter was on the Red Route; Suzanna’s chapter was on the Green Route). We even did a technical test to see how that would work with the time delay.
“Although the streaming was amazing, the coordination was (unsurprisingly) a bit of a disaster, especially for a scene that was as tightly written as Marc had in mind. So they each sang instead to a pre-recorded track of the other voice, mixed as if that second voice were far away in the distance. The broadcast at the Central Hub offered a perfect synthesis of their voices in real time.”