• Stephen McNeff
  • A Star Next to the Moon (2023)
    (based on Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo)

  • Peters Edition Limited (World)

Supported by Vaughan Williams Foundation and the Hinrichsen Foundation

Opera based on Juan Rulfo’s iconic novel Pedro Páramo, with a libretto by Aoife Mannix

  • 5S,4Mz,2T,2Bar,bbar,B + SSAATTBB; 2(I:afl.II:pic).1(ca).2(II:bcl).1(cbn).asx(ssx)/
  • SATB
  • Soprano, Soprano, Soprano, Soprano, Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Tenor, Baritone, Baritone, Bass Baritone, Bass
  • 1 hr 50 min
  • Aoife Mannix and Juan Rulfo

Programme Note

A Star Next to the Moon is freely adapted from Juan Rulfo's novel Pedro Páramo. We have kept the original Mexican character and place names but have not attempted any other references to location or 'colour", preferring to focus on the universal themes of poser and corruption – also the permeable relationship between the living and the dead. It is likely that a production will focus more on the hallucinatory, non-linear dreamlike nature of the story rather than the realistic.



Juan Preciado, as a deathbed promise to his mother, sets off to visit the town of Comala to find his father, Pedro Páramo. Comala is not as his mother described, and appears desolate, no longer a living town. Strange and disturbing encounters with the mysterious inhabitants start to build a picture of a place trapped in its own past as the nightmarish stories drive Juan towards a feverish loss of sanity. The present becomes overwhelmed with re-lived horrors from the past, while in parallel the narrative of Pedro Páramo emerges. We learn of a brutal despot, and how his ruthless rise to power poisoned all who came within his orbit. Pedro’s one glimpse of humanity is Susana who, despite her long absence and his tyranny, he has loved since childhood. However, she is now beyond his reach and her decline into sickness and death drive Pedro to despair and his final act of malice.


Juan Preciado makes a promise to his dying mother that he never meant to keep.

Scene 1

Fulfilling his mother’s wish, Juan is on the road to Comala to find his father, Pedro Páramo. He is lost. He meets Abundio who gives directions and reveals that Pedro Páramo is his father too.

Scene 2

The Media Luna. Fulgor, the foreman, and Pedro Páramo, now the owner of the Media Luna, discuss the state of finances and debt. Pedro tells Fulgor that, to solve his financial problems, he’s to go to affluent Dolores Preciado and, on Pedro’s behalf, propose marriage to her. Dolores accepts – with reservations…

Scene 3

Eduviges Dyada welcomes Juan to her house and tells Juan about his mother as a young woman. A series of strange nightmares and visitations frightens Juan and he rushes from the room. He meets Damiana the woman who cared for him as a baby, and she leads him away from the house – but then she vanishes.

Scene 4

Juan is wandering the streets in confusion and hears two women (Doña Faustina and Doña Angeles) gossiping about him. He is also sure he hears strange voices, but The Sister reassures him it happens all the time. She invites him to her house to join her and her brother in bed. Juan dreams and wakes in a fever. He runs to the square.

Scene 5

Dorotea explains that he was collapsed in the square. He still hopes to find his father, but she tells him that hope is something that she has given up on. She asks if he can hear the walking above.

Scene 6

At the Media Luna, Pedro is angry as his son, Miguel, goes out on the rampage again. Fulgor is critical of Miguel’s bad ways. Damiana hears the voices of Juan and Dorotea and warns them to stay away.

Scene 7

Miguel has been killed in a riding accident. Pedro acknowledges that this could be the point at which he starts to pay. Father Renteria says that they have all sinned and that there can be no mercy for any of them.

Scene 8

Justina sings in the rain while Susana dreams she is a child again. Dorotea and Juan hear them. Pedro exclaims that he has waited thirty years for Susana to return – but her torments have affected her mind.

Scene 9

The People try to make an impoverished living out of the land and are driven to revolution. When they confront Pedro, he makes hollow promises – and is distracted by his obsession with Susana.

Scene 10

Susana imagines that she is swimming and dreams of her first husband.

Scene 11

The Revolutionaries make more demands. Pedro believes he can still win, but Damiana says that he never knew when to just walk away.

Scene 12

Father Renteria tries to hear Susana’s last confession, but she rejects him and withdraws herself from Pedro and the world.

Scene 13

The Travelling Circus comes to Comala much to everyone’s delight, but Pedro is outraged by this seeming lack of respect to Susana and damns the town to destitution. After the murderous reappearance of his estranged son, Abundio, Pedro understands that he is finally alone and without salvation.

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