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Commissioned by Washington National Opera

A Way Forward

A new short opera about a Mexican family of three generations in Queens.

“A tale told with warmth and sweetness.” - The Washington Post

“...lovely detail and realism...easily accessible” - The Washington Post

“A very humanistic family drama.” - Twin Cities Arts Reader

“...vivid characterizations...immediately familiar” - Twin Cities Arts Reader

“...a culture rarely featured in mainstream opera.” - Broadway World

Sergio Martínez (Gabriel)_Winona Martin (Helena)_Kresley Figueroa (Julia) in A Way Forward

Photo Credit: Bronwen Sharp

Singers Photographed: Sergio Martínez, Winona Martin & Kresley Figueroa

Program Notes

A Way Forward invites the audience into the complexities of a Mexican family spanning three generations. The opera is centered around their family business, Panadería Gabriel, which represents the family’s livelihood, heritage, and shared history. Over the years, this traditional bakery has developed into a symbol of cultural continuity and familial ties.

A moment of crisis at the bakery forces the family members to confront their own and each other’s assumptions about how to save the business. What aspects of tradition are non-negotiable and where are they willing to innovate? Does a middle ground exist that would allow Panadería Gabriel to honor its traditional roots while making a step into the modern world?

Generational perspectives further complicate the story. Oftentimes, older family members are rooted in tradition and are not always willing to change, while younger members may see modernization as survival. In essence, this can create pressure with families as they struggle to balance cultural preservation with the realities of the present. This exploration is particularly poignant for individuals from BIPOC cultures, in which power dynamics within families may be perceived as irrevocable, rooted in traditions dating back to ancient times.


Taking center stage is Gabriel, son of Helena and father of Julia, who feels responsible for navigating through his strengths and weaknesses to solve the crisis for his family. A Way Forward immerses the audience into the journey of this compassionate man, whose actions are often deemed weak according to the traditional concept of masculinity, in which men are expected to conceal their sensibilities.

In A Way Forward, each character embodies a psychological threat to another character’s sense of normalcy, igniting trepidation amongst them. The question emerges: will this internal friction cause a tectonic shift, and, if so, will they find the strength to navigate it? Despite the challenges, the characters, driven by the goodness in their hearts, courageously confront their own limitations, fostering a stronger bond between them. As writers, our aim is to share the beauty inherent in this quality, one that has contributed to success within our own family dynamics.

Meet The Team

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