This quote from Marta aptly sums up her cornerstone philosophy which underscored all she created at Amargosa Opera House: ballet, murals, paintings and more. Preserving and promoting classic ballet, dance, music and painting techniques was her Raison d’ etré.
Her Life Celebration took place Friday, February 10, 2017, exactly 49 years, to the day, of her first performance at AOH. Fittingly, that night’s sky was graced with an eclipse — a full moon and a passing meteor!
So many poetic synchronicities were part of her life at Death Valley Junction, California (the ghost town 40 miles from Pahrump, NV that she ultimately bought from Borax Corporation); whenever a great crisis gripped her delicate balance, someone would show up in her life — seemingly out of “the blue” — to befriend her. One such person was Hank Humphreys, who became a long-time friend, and spoke of how he literally parachuted into her town quite by accident and became a dear friend since that first encounter decades ago. He is now part of a team scrambling to restructure the Board and Trustees to correct missteps that might affect future viability of the Opera House if not rectified in the next few weeks. He and others voiced confidence that all will be resolved toward keeping Marta’s vision and legacy-mandate intact and alive.
Marta’s ethereal, elegant, and deeply intelligent nature was a complement to her rock steady determination, steel trap memory and grit against challenges that would wither lesser souls. With that, her exacting perfectionism and unbending sense of control may have unwittingly caused some of the present managerial turmoil.
Her Celebration was glorious for the overflowing crowd who enjoyed hearing her voice on tape, seeing film-clips of her earlier years, and hearing colorful reminisces from long-time friends, while harp, cello and piano pieces were played.
A new on-site museum displays her elaborate hand-created costumes, with pictures and descriptions of the works from which they came.
The Café, now open regularly, served eclairs and espresso to hundreds. Marta left instructions shaping her celebration to include giving each attendee a glass momento!
Her will is in the hands of her lawyer, Michael DeLee, who was gracious to all asking the question, “Will the shows keep going?”
Yes, “the show must go on,” against mudslides, an aging foundation, challenging finances, rapidly rotating staff, competing goals, lack of dependable wifi, and the innumerable challenges of the desert location.
Fred Conboy, a successful professional fundraiser and art aficionado, has been there for Marta for at least fifteen years and is the only person I could find that would speak about the challenges pending with AOH non-profit. He left me feeling that he is determined to meet the looming deadline to bring certain fees and compliances up to date with the California attorney general now involved.
Thoughtful touches, from her favorite flowers, photographs and personal items, to heirloom roses that actually had deep aroma, were placed for all to enjoy, making the gathering very personal and welcoming.
Another interesting serendipity is the path of two ballerinas who migrated here in the last few years, each resonating with Marta’s style and discipline.
Jenna McClintock assiduously replicated such Becket pieces as, “Romance,” “Kewpie Doll,” and “Gossip.” She also added homage to Slavonic folk dancing, and created her own pieces, “Dream Weavin’” and “Bailar” to a series of performances praised by Marta.
Jenna McClintock eventually discovered the nearby hot-springs artist community at Tecopa and decided to build her own Teatro el Grande, complete with Big Tent (as in “olde tyme” traditions). The evening after Marta’s Celebration, Jenna’s Tecopa, CA show highlighted her own style of dancing and pantomime. Her troupe included musicians, magician, hoop-dancer and sideline clown. She thoughtfully included a poem for Marta, “She Walks Alone” by Christopher Alain, in her inaugural show.
Meanwhile back at Amargosa, ballerina Hilda Vazquez, originally from the Dominican Republic, brings to AOH a ballet style long admired by Marta, the Cuban technique, best described by works from Alicia Alonso. Hilda danced as Marta enjoyed the performance from the audience the night before she passed away.
Marta collaborated with many over the years and recently with two grand ballerinas who now go forward bringing discipline, joy and inspiration to future admirers.
Marta wanted a copy of “The Waiting Room at the Train Station” painting (1965) to be present at her Celebration. To me, it speaks about the infinite passage of time and sharing realms known and unknown, even as we sit anonymously by each other — perhaps as other universes look on… What do you see?
The Amargosa Opera House, Death Valley Junction, CA (from Pahrump, NV, take Bell Vista off route 160). Always call ahead (760-852-4441) for reservations for performances on Saturdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. deathvalley firstname.lastname@example.org. Cafe and hotel accommodations available.