The legendary 1970’s rock opera based on CARLOS CASTANEDA’s books.
“A lost masterpiece that is as relevant today as it was during the most exciting and important era American music has ever known.”
The original recording is available on CD at amazon.com :
DIABLERO a rock opera
Song Titles: 1- THE CRACKS BETWEEN THE WORLDS 2- TEACH ME ABOUT PEYOTE 3- FIND YOUR SPOT 4- MASCA MASCA MASCA 5- THE ENCOUNTER 6- FROLICKING WITH MESCALITO 7- THE DEVIL’S WEED 8- ON THE PORCH 9- LA CATALINA 10 – SUCCUMBED 11- THIS IS THE MOMENT 12- THE SPLIT 13- LIKE DUST ON THE ROAD 14- A PATH WITH A HEART
CAST OF CHARACTERS: DON JUAN: Master Diablero – CARLOS: The Apprentice – LA CATALINA: The Worthy Opponent – DON GENARO: A Man Of Knowledge – SUPPORTING CAST: The Dozen Members of Don Juan’s Peyote Cult
All titles © 1977
Listen to the highlights on youtube.com
DIABLERO is a musical for singers, dancers, illusionists, computer and graphic artists. A totally innovative theatrical event that combines every form of stage entertainment, the power of rock concerts, the lyricism of traditional theater, the grandeur of modern opera, and filmmaking. The show’s unique use of visual effects provided by multiple screens –behind the orchestra on stage and left and right of the audience — enhances the musical action, packing it with emotional peaks and mystery. While the simplicity of the sets — a solitary wooden shack in the desert — reinforces the intimacy between performer and audience during the softer musical passages. Another novel aspect of DIABLERO is the use of more than one interpreter for each of the main characters, a singer and a dancer, to emphasize the duality of human nature, which is one of the underlying themes of the musical. Various surprise sensory effects aimed at representing the elements and familiar aromas give the audience an engulfing magical theatrical experience never before attempted on a stage. Bill Graham described DIABLERO as a musical ahead of its time in 1977, because of its novel and eclectic use of different theatrical elements and musical originality.
HISTORY OF DIABLERO, a rock opera
BILL GRAHAM’S MUSICAL PROJECT BASED ON CARLOS CASTANEDA’S BOOKS
(Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bill Graham was an American impresario and rock concert promoter from the 1960s until his death in 1991 in a helicopter crash. He fled from Germany and, in 1941, from France to escape the Holocaust)
Back in the mid-1970s, mysticism and elaborate rock productions were at the height of their popularity among music consumers. The Castaneda’s series of books had each become a bestseller and their main character, Don Juan, was as well known as Frodo Baggins at universities across the USA. So when the legendary rock promoter and entrepreneur Bill Graham first heard the demo for Diablero, he was so taken by it that he described it as a work of genius.
Immediately, he ordered his top attorney, Nick Clainos, to locate the composers and obtain the rights to the rock opera—as most rock-based concept musicals were labeled at the time. This Mr. Clainos accomplished with a single ten-minute telephone negotiation with the creators of the musical. However, Bill Graham’s attempts to contact Carlos Castaneda turned out to be an experience along the lines of a detective story, a journey into the secret world of the man who called himself Don Juan’s apprentice.
For Graham, Diablero was more than a timely and exciting new musical with the potential of becoming the next Jesus Christ Superstar: it was a project he believed perfect for him. As a Latin music fan from the Bronx, he loved the Spanish rhythms and strains in Diablero. It is said that he sat in his bathtub and listened to Diablero’s 47-minute long demo in its entirety every day, while he scribbled down ideas on every aspect of the production.
Diablero became more than a business venture or a pet project for Graham. He intended to make it the defining work of his career. As an artist representative, Bill Graham envisioned the guitar-driven musical as an ideal vehicle for many of the acts his company represented (Santana, Montrose, Bob Dylan, and others) who at the time were experiencing a decline in the shadows of the then Punk and New Wave music trend.
For months Graham waited for a response from Carlos Castaneda’s personal, full-time attorney—a man who admitted never having personally met his famous client. Then one day, he simply stopped returning his calls. To a well-respected powerhouse of a man associated with the highest echelons of the entertainment industry as Bill Graham was, this was more than an unjustified and inexplicable snub, which would have been enough for someone else to drop the whole affair. However, the contrary happened, it fired up his resolve.
Graham decided to use the full weight of his prestige to find Carlos Castaneda and speak personally with him about the musical. He called on Ken Kesey, the prizewinning author, and a personal friend, to assist him in contacting Castaneda. Meantime, his staff at Bill Graham Attractions worked on every possible approach. As a last resort, Graham instructed attorney Nick Clainos to hire a private detective to locate the elusive author, though to no avail.
Graham learned many disappointing facts about Castaneda during the course of the investigation. Particularly the rumored reports about the books being a hoax, and of the many secrets offers by major motion pictures that Castaneda had to decline to avoid having to prove his story was factual. Still, Graham believed if he could speak face-to-face with Castaneda that he would be able to convince him to endorse the Diablero project. Whether the books were fiction or not, he knew the musical was important work, and not one merely intended to capitalize on the books’ popularity.
A year later, Graham’s efforts seemed about to pay off. Nick Clainos called the eager composers to inform them that, at last, Bill had made a date to meet with Carlos Castaneda. Finally, Diablero musical appeared to be on the verge of becoming a reality.
Prior to the meeting, a copy of the demo and libretto was forwarded to Castaneda for evaluation. His response came via his attorney, who apologized for Castaneda not having listened to the music on account of his limited musical knowledge. However, Don Juan’s apprentice did get to read the lyrics, his attorney reported. When asked for his reaction to Diablero’s libretto, Castaneda’s attorney said he enjoyed them. Somehow, this was taken as another hopeful sign by the Graham camp that things were truly turning around.
The meeting was to be held in Hawaii. Full of anticipation, Bill Graham and his personal staff flew in a day in advance to be fully prepared for the long-awaited, face-to-face with the famous sorcerer’s apprentice. They waited for three days, but Carlos Castaneda never showed up. Defeated, Graham and his people returned to San Francisco, and the project to take Diablero to Broadway was abandoned.
Twenty-five years later, the major players behind the Diablero drama are no longer with us. But the music still is. And while the mysticism of the 60s and 70s is long gone and conceptual musical works have become extinct from the music charts, new attention to spirituality has resurfaced since then, making the Diablero demo a timely musical work again.
The feeling among music lovers today is that popular music has died as an important American art form, and must turn to the past to find new musical experiences. This makes the Diablero demo Bill Graham fell in love with, a lost treasure for those still hungry for heartfelt, original, and imaginative music. A lost masterpiece that is as relevant today as it was when it was composed, during the most exciting and important era American music has ever known.