Music of the Americas: Ebbó

This production of the Afro-Cuban chamber opera by Louis Aguirre, directed by Yelaine Rodríguez, was created specifically to be seen online.

Ebbó (1998) is an opera-oratorio by Cuban composer Louis Aguirre and librettist Rafael Almanza. The piece is an expression and reinvention of Afro-Caribbean religious, aesthetic, and musical heritage. This new production, commissioned by Americas Society from Dominican artist Yelaine Rodríguez, was created specifically to be seen online. 


Queen Apetebí reigns over a prosperous kingdom, but she loves her fantastical pet bird more than anything in the world. Orula, her protector Orisha and master of divination, asks the queen for the bird in sacrifice (ebbó means "sacrifice") and warns her of the price of non-compliance. The queen refuses, and the evil Iron King and his armies invade her realm and kill all her subjects. Apetebí finds refuge in a cave, but on the second night of hiding, the bird, unable to stay away from her, finds the cave, inadvertently giving away her location and leading to her demise.


The musical ensemble, including a solo soprano (Estelí Gómez), narrator, and instruments including Latin Jazz master Bobby Sanabria, was recorded independently by musicians scattered around the world, from New York to California, and from Tokyo to Buenos Aires.


  • Bird and Orula: Jeremy Antonio Caro
  • Queen Apetebí: Rayser Rafelina Campusano Rosario


  • Queen Apetebí: Estelí Gómez
  • Narrator: Ahmed Gómez
  • Oboe: Michelle Wong
  • Horn: David Byrd-Marrow
  • Violin: Pala Garcia
  • Viola: Stephanie Griffin
  • Piano: Jacob Greenberg
  • Percussion: Haruka Fujii and Bobby Sanabria


Composer Louis Aguirre was born in Cuba in 1968 and received a B.A. in composition from the Instituto Superior de Artes in Havana, where he studied with Harold Gramatges and Roberto Valera. 

Librettist Rafael Almanza was born in 1957 in Camagüey, where he still resides. He is a poet, journalist, and a leading scholar of the works of José Martí. His publications include the essay "En torno al pensamiento económico de José Martí" the story collection El octavo día, and the poetry collection Libro de Jóveno.

Born in 1990 in the Bronx, where she lives and works today, director Yelaine Rodríguez is an Afro-Dominican U.S. artist, educator, curator, and cultural organizer. 


The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation. The Spring-Summer 2021 Music program was also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support comes from The Amphion Foundation, Inc.

MetLife Foundation        NYC Cultural Affairs    New York Council on the Arts   Art Works - National Endowment for the Arts