Music by Jorge Martín
Libretto by Jorge Martín and Dolores M. Koch, based on the memoir by Reinaldo Arenas
About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances


“[Before Night Falls] bursts with restless passion . . . a gripping tale of individual triumph over repressive brutality, vibrant, compelling characters [and] pulsing, illustrative music, the combination of which was more than enough for this listener and the wildly enthusiastic opening-night audience.” — Opera News

Based on the famous memoir of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls follows Arenas’s life from childhood poverty in the Cuban countryside to his emigration to the United States in the 1980 Mariel boatlift and his last decade suffering from AIDS in New York City. Disillusioned by the Cuban Revolution and persecuted by the Castro regime as a dissident writer and homosexual, the opera follows his trials and tribulations as a political prisoner forced to smuggle his manuscripts abroad for publication. In 2000, Before Night Falls was made into an award-winning feature film directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp.

Before Night Falls is a full-length opera in two acts scored for a full orchestra. The music is by Cuban-born composer Jorge Martín with a libretto by Mr. Martín and Dolores M. Koch. The musical style is melodic and richly textured, full of contrasts with some Cuban inflections along with a chorus of almost Verdian grandeur.

Additional info: Jorge Martin, Before Night Falls website

Before Night Falls world premiere, Fort Worth Opera 2010. The work was developed in AOP First Chance with continued development at Fort Worth Opera.

Back to top


Jorge Martín was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1959; his family settled in the U.S. in 1965. He has degrees from Yale College and Columbia University. He writes in all major genres and his music is commissioned and performed by all kinds of artists and groups across the U.S. In 1999 and again in 2012 he received a generous Cintas Fellowship for creative artists of Cuban descent, and also the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ prestigious Academy Award in Music in 1998. In 2005 Mr. Martín was awarded a fellowship by the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, and artist’s residencies at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs in 1993 and again in 2003. The Fort Worth Opera Festival presented the World Premiere of Martín’s first full-length large-scale opera, Before Night Falls, in the spring of 2010. The opera is available on record; Mr. Martín has numerous other recordings available commercially, and he is a member of A.S.C.A.P.

Dolores M. Koch first met Reinaldo Arenas professionally, and became a close friend. She has translated into English three books by Arenas: Before Night Falls, The Doorman, and Mona and Other Tales.


Back to top


Back to top


Before Night Falls

Back to top


April 10, 2017 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Opera review: "Jorge Martin's "Before Night Falls""

March 23, 2017 - WLRN (Miami)
Opera Profile: "Cuban Poet Reinaldo Arenas Comes Back To Life On Opera Stage"

March 22, 2017 - South Florida Gay News
Opera Review: "Opera is Powerful, if Flawed, Testament to Cuban Dissident, Exile"

March 21, 2017 - Miami Herald
Opera Review: "Tragic Cuban opera compels in Miami debut"

March 8, 2017 - South Florida Gay News
Opera Profile: "Composer Speaks About ‘Before Night Falls’ at FGO"

March 2, 2017 - Gay City News
Opera Profile: "“Before Night Falls” Takes Miami"

Feb 15, 2016 - South Florida Classical Review
Opera Profile: Tale of Cuban poet among the offerings in FGO’s 2016-17 season

January 4, 2012 - WHAT'S UP MIAMI
Opera preview : "Anticipation for BEFORE NIGHT FALLS, The Opera"

August 20, 2011 - Vermont Public Radio
Opera Profile: "Before Night Falls"

December 28, 2010 -
Best of Year Lists: "Outstanding original performances or adaptations in 2010"

December 28, 2010 -
Best of 2010: Classical Music and Opera

October 17, 2010 -
Opera CD review: "Take Back the Night"

September 2010 - Opera News
Opera review: Before Night Falls, Fort Worth Opera

July 5, 2010 - National Review
Opera review: "An Opera Apart"

June 27, 2010 - Repeating Islands
Opera Profile: “Before Night Falls” opera in Fort Worth

June 26, 2010 - The Washington Post
Opera review: "Before Night Falls" in Fort Worth

June 9, 2010 - The Wall Street Journal
Opera review: Before Night Falls, Fort Worth Opera

June 7th, 2010 - My Big Gay Ears
Opera review: Before Night Falls, Fort Worth Opera

June 2, 2010 - Fort Worth Weekly
Opera review: "Go Before Night Falls"

June 2010 - Opera News
Opera Profile - "Long Night of the Soul"

May 31, 2010 - D Magazine (Dallas)
Opera review: Before Night Falls, Fort Worth Opera

May 30, 2010 - The Dallas Morning News
Opera review: "Bass Hall resounds with bravos for 'Before Night Falls'"

May 30, 2010 -
Opera review: "A Night to Remember"

May 30, 2010 - ARTS & SEEK
Opera review : BEFORE NIGHT FALLS World Premiere, Fort Worth Opera

May 28, 2010 - DALLAS VOICE.COM
Opera profile : "Before Before Night Falls"

September 2006 - THE GAY & LESBIAN REVIEW
Opera profile : "Dreaming Opera: Adapting Before Night Falls"

May 4, 2005 - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Opera workshop review: BEFORE NIGHT FALLS

April 28 - May 04, 2005 - GAY CITY NEWS
Opera Profile: Curtain Rises on “Before Night Falls”

Back to top


May 2-3, 2005
Clark Studio Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
Concert reading of Act I, scenes 3 and 4 with artist panel
Presented by AOP First Chance in association with El Instituto Cervantes and the Cuban Artists Fund’s Third Annual Cuban Arts Festival
Director Beth Greenberg. Conductor Steven Osgood. Pianists: Josephine Lee, Grant Loehnig.
Cast: Robert Gardner (Reinaldo), Javier Abreu (Pepe), Marc Heller (Ovidio), Jeffrey Tucker (Victor), Jeniece Golbourne, Amy Van Roekel (Muses); Chorus: Bendix Anderson, Scott Carlton, Dan Cucura, James Gregory, David Mintz, Jonathan R. Tuzo

June 10-11, 2004
Dance Theatre Workshop, New York, NY
Concert reading of excerpts from Act I
Presented by AOP First Chance


March 18-25, 2017
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House, Miami, FL
Presented by Florida Grand Opera

May 29 - June 6, 2010 - WORLD PREMIERE
Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, TX
Presented by Fort Worth Opera
Director: David Gately. Conductor: Joe Illick
Performances by Wes Mason, Jesus Garcia, Seth Mease Carico, Janice Hall, Jonathan Blalock

April 28, 2007
Scenes from Act II
The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, FL
Presented by Opera America Opera Conference 2007, New Works Sampler

Back to top


American Opera Projects, Inc. • 138 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
718.398.4024 •