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PEPITO Woof! Woof! (whining) Hmm... Hmm... (howling) Ahhh—ooo! (howling) Ahhh—ooo! Some days, I can smell my old life. All those roses Papa bought for Mama... And Abuela’s tamales! And the grrr—ruff!—sweaty—grrr—ruff!—mailman?! Grrr... I can smell my old life! Where is it now? (howling) Ahhh—ooo! My mouth waters! Smoke mixed with carnitas! Oh!! Some days I can smell my old life! Ahhh—ooo! I can smell— (sniffing) money? And (sniffing) sadness...
DAVID I don’t know why you’re so upset. We were supposed to meet at 5. CAMILA It’s 5:45. 5:45, David! I thought we both wanted this. DAVID Honey, I told you, the market was crazy! I’m sorry! CAMILA You’re always sorry! PEPITO I smell… compromisos rotos. (I smell… broken promises.) DAVID Excuse me, what time do you close? ANGIE In fifteen minutes. CAMILA Ay, Dios mio! ANGIE Mmm… fourteen minutes. DAVID We’ll come back tomorrow. CAMILA I can’t come back tomorrow! My client goes to court! You know that! DAVID I know. Can we see all of your puppies, quickly? ANGIE The puppies are overstimulated. DAVID Ha! So am I. ANGIE Is this funny to you? DAVID …No! No, I— ANGIE These are puppies! Rescues! Think of what these puppies have been through? Think of all the pain they have faced! Please show some respect? Have some compassion, will you? Please?! It's late in the day! They don't want to play! They have been completely inundated! The puppies are overstimulated!
DAVID I’m sorry. CAMILA He is. He’s always sorry. ANGIE Can you always be sorry? ANGIE I can show you a dog. There. PEPITO (whining) Hmm hm hm hm… ¿Hola? CAMILA Hmm… DAVID Hmm? ANGIE What do you think? PEPITO ¿Qué piensas? CAMILA Hmm… PEPITO Hmm? CAMILA I was just hoping for something cuter… PEPITO I can be cuter. CAMILA Littler…? CAMILA David. DAVID I have to take this call. CAMILA David! ANGIE Sir! No phones! DAVID It’s work—sorry! CAMILA & PEPITO Ay, David…
ANGIE You get four minutes alone with the dog. CAMILA Really? ANGIE To see if there is chemistry. CAMILA Wait—I don’t even know his name. ANGIE And… go. CAMILA Hello, dog. My name is Camila. PEPITO Camila. CAMILA My husband and I came here for a puppy, but we could settle for the right dog. Are you the right dog? Are you the one? PEPITO I don’t know. I love you. CAMILA It’s important to know in advance. It’s important to know in advance if you are the right dog. There is nothing to gain from an imperfect match. Trust me, I know. I have been wrong before. PEPITO What is “wrong”? I love you. CAMILA Will you bark all night long? Pee inside? Will you bite?! Will you tear up the rug? Chew on mulch? Do you drool? It’s important to know in advance. It’s important to know in advance if you are the right dog. Are you the one? PEPITO What is “right”? I love you. I love you! Te quiero! CAMILA Do you know how to fetch? Dig a hole? Can you sit? Will you heel? Walk a child home from school? PEPITO In the past, I would walk Diego home from school. CAMILA Not now, but in the future? PEPITO I can still smell him. I don’t know where he is. I miss him. CAMILA Look, are you the right dog? Would you tell me if not? Would you know? Would you even know?! Is there a right dog? How would I know? PEPITO What is “right”? I love you. Te quiero. ¡Te quiero! PEPITO Don’t cry. No llores.
CAMILA Dios, what am I doing? I’m going loca. Come. Come here, dog. CAMILA Come here, pobrecito! (Come here, you poor thing!) PEPITO Woof! CAMILA Ven acá. (Come here!) PEPITO Woof woof! CAMILA ¡Ven aca! (Come here!) CAMILA You speak Spanish! PEPITO ¡Guau Guau! CAMILA Mucho gusto. (It’s a pleasure to meet you.) PEPITO ¡El gusto es mío! (The pleasure is mine!) ANGIE That’s four minutes. CAMILA He likes it when I speak Spanish! DAVID I love it when you speak Spanish. It reminds me how hot you are! PEPITO Woof. (Woof.) CAMILA David, look at this dog! DAVID He’s cute. But we want a puppy, right? CAMILA & ANGIE & PEPITO The puppies are overstimulated! CAMILA David, watch! He speaks Spanish, just like his Mama! Dame besitos, perrito! (Give me little kisses, little dog!) PEPITO ¡Con gusto!
DAVID Dogs don’t speak Spanish, Camila. CAMILA Why shouldn’t they speak Spanish? PEPITO ¿Por qué no? DAVID Dogs don’t understand language. Come here, stupid. PEPITO ¡Oye! ANGIE Sir! CAMILA No! You must be kind to him. You must be kind to our dog. DAVID I’m sorry! He doesn’t know. CAMILA He makes me feel… something…! ANGIE I know this look. You’re glowing. DAVID You are glowing. CAMILA I can breathe again. ANGIE She’s glowing! DAVID She’s glowing! CAMILA I feel so full I could die right now— My heart is so full, I am alive! The air feels like magic! DAVID & ANGIE & PEPITO Magic…? CAMILA I am so full I could die right now! My heart is so full! I am afraid! I am excited! My skin tingles. PEPITO Ah-oo!!! I can smell destiny! Destiny! CAMILA I’ll name you Pepito! CAMILA & PEPITO Pepito!!! CAMILA ¡Pepitititito! PEPITO ¡Guau guau! CAMILA ¡Pepititititititititito! PEPITO Woof woof!
DAVID (mispronounced, oblivious) Pahpitoe? PEPITO Woof. CAMILA Listen... His name is Pepito! Pepito! CAMILA & PEPITO Pepito! DAVID Got it. Puhpitoe. CAMILA & PEPITO Dios. ANGIE Wait! Hold up! There’s an interview. I have to screen you. You have to be screened. CAMILA But we have chemistry! PEPITO Ruff! CAMILA Chemistry! PEPITO Ruff ruff! ANGIE Look. You seem like a good person. But a lot of good people let dogs down. Love is not all a dog needs. Love is not always enough. Our hearts do not hold every answer. Our hearts do not know right from wrong! Plus, we’re closed. CAMILA No!!! DAVID Please—This is all my fault. I have never seen her like this. CAMILA I am so ready to adopt this dog! ANGIE Are you ready to put him first? Are you ready to tell him no? Are you ready to watch him fail? Are you ready to someday let him go? PEPITO Woof? ANGIE We don’t deserve dogs. ANGIE Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready? CAMILA I feel so full I could die right now! My heart is so full, I’m alive! I am so ready! DAVID Are we ready? I’m sorry! I’m sorry I was late! I can change! Are we okay? PEPITO What is “ready”? I love you. I can smell my new life! I am so ready—ah-oo! ANGIE Are you ready—to show me your paperwork? CAMILA Yes – here is a copy of the lease, bank statements, references. DAVID …Wow! ANGIE This will take me a minute.
Ven acá 03:43
Are we okay? CAMILA I know, pobrecito. (I know. Poor thing.) DAVID I want to know what you’re thinking. I want to know what you want. You feel so far away from me… So far away from us… Is it my fault? CAMILA You never listen. You put everything else first. I don’t want to do this anymore. DAVID What do you want? I want this to work! Please come home. I see you pulling away from me... I am so lost. CAMILA This is not what I want. DAVID But Pepito will change things! PEPITO What is “change”? CAMILA He already has. ANGIE You guys are: approved. You can take Pepito home. PEPITO Woof woof! ANGIE Goodbye, and good luck, dog. PEPITO ¡Que te vaya bien! (Take care!) CAMILA Thank you. DAVID Come here, dog. Come here, Pepito… Uh… come… veni…? DAVID Veni…? CAMILA Ven acá. (Come here.) DAVID Ven acá. (Come here.)


Pepito, a lonely shelter dog, misses his old family and his old life. Camila and David, young married professionals, are searching for the perfect dog. As the cracks in Camila and David's marriage deepen, Camila and Pepito form an unshakeable bond.

Commissioned by the Washington National Opera at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and first produced at the Kennedy Center during the 2018/19 season.

Nicolas Lell Benavides’ music has been praised for finding “…a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines…” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post) and cooking up a “jaunty score [with] touches of cabaret, musical theater and Latin dance.” (Tim Smith, OPERA NEWS). He has worked with groups such as the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Nashville Opera, New Opera West, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Friction Quartet, and Nomad Session.

He was a fellow at the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Nick was the first ever Young Artist Composer in Residence at The Glimmerglass Festival.

Marella Martin Koch is a librettist, playwright, and director from Los Angeles now based in New York City. She received her B.A. from University of California, Berkeley and her M.F.A. from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.

Praised for creating “complete characters in swift sure lines” (The Washington Post) and her “cleverness in constructing humor for opera” (DC Theatre Scene), in 2018 Martin Koch was selected for Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative commission. Her one-act opera Pepito, written with composer Nicolas Lell Benavides, premiered at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2019 and has since been performed across the country, most recently at Nashville Opera. Her forthcoming full-length opera Gilberto, also written with Benavides, has received support from The Glimmerglass Festival, New Opera West, and West Edge Opera.

In addition to Gilberto with Benavides, she is penning the libretto for a new operatic adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility for composer Aferdian Stephens, with whom she previously collaborated on two song cycles, Marianne Dashwood and Elinor Dashwood, commissioned by mezzo-soprano Meagan Martin and performed at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Yale School of Music, the National Opera Center, and the SUNY Plattsburgh Jane Austen & The Arts Conference.

She is the Founder & Director of The Rally Cat.



released May 1, 2020

music by
Nicolas Lell Benavides

libretto by
Marella Martin Koch

Singers (in order of appearance):
Samuel J. Weiser, bass
Joshua Blue, tenor
Alexandra Nowakowski, soprano
Alexandra Christoforakis, mezzo-soprano

Emma McCartney, flute/piccolo
Holly Hu, oboe
Max Opferkuch, clarinet/bass clarinet
Lieza Hansen, bassoon
Matthew Lee Otto, horn
Cameron Wilkins, trumpet
Aidan Ritchie, trombone
Mary LaBlanc, percussion
You Zhao, piano
Kate Outterbridge, violin
Nicholas Bentz, violin
Erica Zappia, viola
Javier Iglesias-Martín, cello
Rebecca Lawrence, double bass

Nicolas Lell Benavides, conductor

Zach Miley Productions

Recorded in the Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall,
University of Southern California

Principal Donors
Alan Savada & Will Stevenson
Albuquerque Hispanic Heritage Committee
Jake Heggie

Foundation Support
Presser Foundation Graduate Music Award

Bryan Lin
Cindy Phillips & Thomas Martin
Dmitry Glivinskiy
Eddie Garcia
Eleanor Hooker
Ellen & Eric Choate
Gemma Peacocke
Hans & Bryn Boepple
Isabel & Philip Ebiner
Justin Muehlmeyer & Dorca Lee
Katherine Brennan
Kelley Rourke
Kindra Scharich
Linda & Gilbert Benavides
Linda & Will Schieber
Lisa Oman & Michelle Gilkey
Luke Ellard
Patricia Plude
Patrick Vaz
Rafael & Carmen St John
Richard & Sandra Koch
Rob Ainsley
Rosemary Garcia
Sabrina Skacan
Samuel St John
Stephen Grenholm
Steve Fletcher
Susan Thieme
Valerie Beidelman & John Armstrong
Valerie St John & Charles Leder
Vicki & Kevin Beidelman

Album art credit
Scott Suchman, photographer
Andrea Dorf McGray, director
A.J. Guban, lighting designer
Timm Burrow, costume designer
Washington National Opera


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Nicolas Lell Benavides Los Angeles, California

Nicolas is a composer living in Los Angeles, CA

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