He contacted several opera companies, but the response was a deafening silence—until Darren K. Woods, general director of the Fort Worth Opera, heard about Before Night Falls and organized a workshop staging of it at the Seagle Music Colony in upstate New York.
"The opera is about freedom of expression and of speech, and what we will do or must do to preserve it," says Woods, who is featuring Before Night Falls next season alongside such well-loved operas as Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. "Adding music and singing elevated the material even further."
Mason, who played the role of Arenas at the workshop, says there was some trepidation about how opera aficionados—who are known for preferring classics such as La Bohème and La Traviata—would react to Before Night Falls.
"There are plenty of conservatives who attend operas who completely disagree with the homosexual lifestyle," says Mason. "But at the end of the workshop everyone leapt to their feet, applauded, and cheered. I stood there and wept."