What may have been last year's most unsettling new opera(s) may also have been the most modest. "Cuatro Corridos" -- which had its premiere in a small black box at UC San Diego and will reach Colburn School's Zipper Concert Hall on Friday night -- consists of four 15-minute operas for a solo singer and instrumental trio of guitar, piano and percussion.
The subject matter is an unflinching look, from four cultural and musical points of view, at a sex trafficking scandal uncovered 13 years ago in the San Diego strawberry fields.
In the librettos by Jorge Volpi, each opera -- by composers Hilda Paredes, Arlene Sierra, Lei Liang and Hebert Vázquez -- tells the story of a different girl kidnapped in Mexico to serve as a prostitute for migrant farmworkers. The scores are modern and meaningful. Soprano Susan Narucki's performances of the four women is shockingly true to the material. The production, which includes a video "border wall," sets the scenes but is careful not to overpower powerful material.