At some point during the 80-minute running time of Quantum Theatre’s Looking for Violeta, the sun sets outside the tent on the Frick Park Lawn Bowling Greens, where the production is being staged. But you almost wouldn’t notice until a moment close to the end, when the lights inside the tent are darkened and you hear Violeta Parra’s low, sweet voice singing to the audience from beyond the grave.
That’s not a spoiler. Quantum’s new folk opera about Parra, a 20th-century Chilean musician and activist, is biographical, and Violeta’s older brother Nicanor tells us early on that the story is about her death. Looking for Violeta is Nicanor’s memory play; he travels through Violeta’s life attempting to understand why his sister took her life shortly before turning 50. In the end, though, this production is much more about life than death. -Emily Wolfe, City Paper