Jim Covarrubias created, wrote, designed, and narrated the opera "Kokopelli, The Legend," about the history of one of the most iconic deities in Native-American culture. The performance premiered at the Tempe Center for the Arts June 3, 2016, brought to life by incredible singers, dancers, musicians, narration, costume design, and high-caliber stage lighting illuminating a unique feature; sixty-five original Jim Covarrubias paintings projected onto the backdrop of the stage.
The project began as a way to portray the popular figure of a hump-backed flute player with an active libido. But Jim's research led to a broader story of the Hohokam people who settled the central Arizona valley 800 years ago, and yielded a vast array of legends about the Kokopelli, his role, and his place in history. The opera’s tale is a historical fiction about a society ruled by women that lasted a millennium without war; farming six hundred thousand acres of canal fed fields between Casa Grande and Phoenix, AZ to feed a population of 50,000 people and trade. However, a devastating drought and invasion of Northern tribes threatened the Hohokam to abandon their paradise. A Shaman prophesied the arrival of someone who would save the people. He is a traveling merchant, a Toltec Pochteca, a Kokopelli who will use the skills of his trade, including the Sacred Ballgame, to confront the enemy.
In creating the opera, Jim explored the ancient world of Native-Americans and discovered similarities between then and now, along with the lasting impact of the Kokopelli. The performance includes underlying ideas about food, drought, migration, and women’s rights that we are still confronted with today.