The Traditional Presentation of "La Pastorela"
Updated 12 January 2012
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Garcia Opera House, Socorro, NM
La Pastorela (the Shepherds) is a centuries old Spanish language performance of the Christmas story. Brought to New Mexico over El Camino Real by the Franciscans, it was used to teach the story of the birth of Christ, peppered with morality and other Christian principles in romantic prose and a bit of humor. La Pastorela was performed in most churches or opera houses in New Mexico until the 1920-1930s, when entertainment shifted to movies, and later radio and television.
Archangel Michael appears to the Shepherds tending their flock and announces the birth of the baby Jesus.
Click on photos to enlarge
The Garcia Opera House, built 1884-1886, was one of the premier opera houses in the Southwest. Long before movies and television,
it was the nearest opera house where entertainment was found: operas, melodrama plays, orchestras, choral groups -- and Pastorela
performances. Often, performances began after 8 p.m. to coincide with the arrival of the Santa Fe passenger train. People would travel
to the exquisite Garcia Opera house from towns along the Rio Grande --returning on the midnight train -- just to see the latest performance.
was also one of the few opera houses with a "raked" stage. The stage is slanted, the rear being one foot higher than the
front, giving the audience a clear view of the entire stage -- and the performance -- even to those seated in the rear!
Garcia Opera House in Socorro has been beautifully restored, and one of the few authentic territorial-era opera houses remaining
in the United States, and one of only a few with a raked stage. Today, it is still used for community functions from special performances,
graduation parties, dances, weddings, to any gathering for a modest sized crowd. Booking information here
The Historic Garcia Opera House in Socorro, NM
The group La Gran Pastorela de Belen has kept the tradition alive for decades. Using a discovered "old world" manuscript,
and in places using archaic Spanish, it is little indifferent than a performance 200 years ago.
In December 2011, El Camino Real
International Heritage Center Foundation was pleased to sponsor this historic play, performed by La Gran Pastorela de Belen, on the
equally historic raked stage of the Garcia Opera House in Socorro. It was a beautiful performance, and a step back in time.
La Pastorela Performance
A very brief description of the play through photos
"La Pastorela" at the Garcia Opera House, Socorro, NM
The Shepherds agree to go to Bethlehem to see the Glory of God.
Then, Lucifer appears to discredit the story and discourages the Shepherds from going to Bethlehem.
Michael again appears and confronts Lucifer about spreading lies about the glory of God and the birth of the Savior.
A great fight ensues in which Michael defeats Lucifer.
The Shepherds arrive in Bethlehem, and one by one, worship the Christ child and offer their humble gifts to Mary.
Except the lazy Bartolo, who decides to sleep instead, not bothering to see the baby Jesus.
The Shepherds try and try to awaken Bartolo, finally coaxing him to see the Nino.
When Bartolo sees the baby Jesus, he is overcome with emotion and shameful of rejecting the Christ child.
Bartolo is so proud of the baby Jesus, he shows Him off to everybody (the audience).
The Shepherds leave the manger, singing praises to the birth of Christ.
After the performance, carols are sung in both Spanish and English.
The performance is accompanied with live music and chorus.
The encore of La Gran Pastorela de Belen performers and musicians.
Click on photos to enlarge