Creative consultant, collaborator, playwright, teacher, lecturer, translator and writer Josmar Lopes has over 40+ years of exposure to — and love for — opera, movies, musical theater, classic drama and the performing and fine arts. Although his professional career has been focused primarily around the financial services and medical device industries, his heart has always been with the arts.
A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Josmar immigrated to New York at an early age. Growing up in the Bronx, he was privy to a wide range of activities, in particular a production of Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel, while still a youngster. An early brush with the stage occurred, when, thanks to his sixth-grade teacher’s passion for the musical Oliver!, Josmar and his fellow students performed the opening number, “Food, Glorious Food,” for his school’s auditorium. Needless to say, he was hooked from that point on.
Living in the Big Apple is everyone’s dream, which Josmar indulged in to the fullest. He had the added good fortune of attending frequent live performances at such venerated institutions as the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Town Hall, Madison Square Garden and the City Centre. Likewise, Shakespeare in the Park, the Ziegfeld Theatre, the Winter Garden, the Village Vanguard and other select venues figured prominently in his itinerary.
Faced with this embarrassment of artistic riches, it was easy for him to become a devoted theater buff. Consequently, he caught the initial runs of the musicals 42nd Street, A Chorus Line, Annie, A Doll’s Life, Chicago, Evita and Les Miserables, while enjoying the literary merits of such plays as Equus, Amadeus, Measure for Measure, Cyrano de Bergerac, Torch Song Trilogy, Biloxi Blues, Children of a Lesser God, Tomfoolery, Much Ado About Nothing and Othello, along with the operatic masterpieces of Verdi, Wagner, Puccini and their ilk.
Josmar attributes his deep knowledge and understanding of opera, film, pop music and theater to his excursions to the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at Lincoln Center. It was here, and at the main branch of the New York Public Library, that he spent many a weekend poring over books, pamphlets, magazines, newspaper articles, microfiche and other resources in researching and studying the recordings, texts, librettos and background of his favorite works.
In the mid-1990s, Josmar went to live in the city of his birth. While there, he provided a range of consulting/translation services for Banco Bradesco, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Caldas Law Studies Center, O Estado de S. Paulo Newspaper, Gazeta Mercantil and Cotia Trading. A chance encounter with a colleague at Home Box Office (HBO) of Brazil led to a variety of transcription assignments, among them the History Channel’s Modern Marvels, The Great Ships, Great Chefs of the South, Biography, NBC Dateline, Time & Again and Civil War Journal; also, the Cinema Novo classic A hora e a vez de Augusto Matraga (“The Time and the Place for Augusto Matraga”), the Abel Ferrara–directed Dangerous Game, the Gary Cooper Western They Came to Cordura, and the sword-and-sandal epic The Fall of the Roman Empire.
Returning to the U.S., he took up writing as a sideline, becoming a frequent contributor to several Web sites. As a result of his online pieces, many of which strongly emphasized Brazilian culture and history, Josmar was approached by producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey to serve as creative consultant for a planned Broadway mounting of Black Orpheus, based on the Academy Award-winning foreign film, and the musical play Orfeu da Conceição by Rio-born songwriters Vinicius de Moraes and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Shortly thereafter, Josmar collaborated with the award-winning team of Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho. He provided the English adaptation as well as the English lyrics and subtitles for the duo’s original production of 7 – The Musical, with a score by jazz-funk artist Ed Motta. He also worked on and helped translate a draft of the potential musical version of Black Orpheus. In addition, he is a close friend to theater director, producer and playwright Gerald Thomas, who he has interviewed on several occasions.
In June 2014, Josmar was invited to participate in the Jazz Samba Festival, given at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda, Maryland, where he interviewed and paid tribute to drummer Buddy Deppenschmidt, the only surviving member of the classic Jazz Samba recording, which included saxophonist Stan Getz, guitarist Charlie Byrd, and bassist Keter Betts, on Verve.
Josmar is currently developing a number of cultural exchange projects, including a musical play about the Brazilian Bombshell, Carmen Miranda, called Bye-Bye, My Samba, as well as a seriocomic look at composer Giacomo Puccini and the trials and tribulations he experienced in writing the opera Madama Butterfly. He calls this latest project Mio Caro Giacomo (“My Dear Giacomo”). In the midst of this blizzard of activity, Josmar still finds time to dabble in his favorite subjects, while working on his book – tentatively titled Brazil’s Fat Lady Can’t Sing (But She Can Still Do the Bossa Nova), a personal and cultural history of opera, pop, soccer, cinema and musical theater in the land of Carnival and samba. ¤