'A Sort of Guerrilla': Che at the Opera
The undoubted cause célèbre of the 1969 Holland Festival was the large-scale musictheatre piece Reconstructie , jointly authored by a team of ﬁve young composers and twolibrettists. The work, which took as its subject ‘the struggle against US imperialism in Latin America’, and revolved around the ﬁgure of Che Guevara, embodied the authors’ dualcommitment to political engagement and artistic experiment. My account examines the work through the lens of recent scholarship that stresses the politically reactionary function of avant-garde experimentation within the cultural Cold War. In the process, attention is given tobroader factors affecting the work’s production and reception: these include contemporaneousdebates about cultural popularising and the Holland Festival; the complex motives of the work’s governmental patrons; and the inﬂuence upon the authors of Cuba, Castro and Guevarahimself.