Set in present day Los Angeles, the story concerns Meredith, a disillusioned screenwriter who meets Macario, an undocumented landscaper. Rigid class boundaries dissolve as their friendship grows - Macario helping Meredith rediscover her true artistic self as she inspires him to heal from a tragic past he’s buried. But their friendship is misunderstood, leading to devastating consequences.

"The Place Where You Started shows there’s more to immigrants than any stereotype about occupation and ethnicity can encompass.”

Brett Campbell — Oregon Arts Watch

Cast & Ensemble

The opera’s cast includes two sopranos, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and two baritones. It is scored for flute (alto flute), clarinet (bass clarinet), violin, ‘cello, piano, and percussion. The opera runs about 1 hour and 35 minutes.asy.

Notes from the Librettist

Overtly the narrative is about regret; however, beneath this theme runs a sense of disenfranchisement and isolation. Macario exists on the margins as an undocumented person and Meredith is lost in a life of shallow modernity. She never developed the tools she needed to know herself, and now, as she approaches midlife, she’s desperate to find meaning.

She believes it’s a matter of just returning to her original goals. She makes the mistake most Americans make– that we are defined by the form and even the substance of our work. She dreams of being a novelist and poet, thinking it will make her happy.

Macario, who is from the fictional South American country Cielo, teaches her to find meaning in living itself. The garden they work together then becomes a larger metaphor for simply being, as the plants are, in the moment. For his part, initially the garden becomes a place where he can forget the terrible secrets of his past that have kept him running. He lives half a life in America. He feels like a sub-person here even as he is treated as one.

Then, as the story evolves, it is the garden where he rediscovers his whole self again.

In these ways the garden mentors them both.

The two never form a romantic attachment. This is one of the things that makes this story unique. Meredith is a whole person struggling not to find meaning in love, but to find it in herself. Free from the Latin lover stereotype, Macario is not defined by seduction – instead he finds his identity as he remembers his wife and children back home.


- Amy S. Punt