Borja fresco ‘restorer’ to be celebrated in opera

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THE elderly woman who three years ago took it upon herself to restore a fresco in the Santuario de Misericordia church in Borja, Zaragoza, and destroyed a priceless work of art in the process, is to become the subject of an opera.

Cecilia Giménez, set out with the best of intentions when she picked up her brushes to refresh the ‘Ecce Homo’ (Behold the Man) fresco of the suffering of Jesus Christ, by Elías García Martínez (1930), but her botched efforts attracted worldwide ridicule, and open-mouthed horror from art historians.

Her retouched fresco went viral, attracting many new names, most notably Ecce Mono – Behold the Monkey.

Cecilia was the focus of such media attention, she began to take panic attacks. But now, things are looking up for the enthusiastic painter, and her hometown has begun to celebrate her notorious work. Borja now welcomes many thousands of visitors desperate to see the famous mural.

And an opera company based in Boulder, Colorado is set to stage an opera, described as a ‘tragicomedy,’ based on Cecilia and her work, which is expected to tour internationally, including to Borja in 2017.

The writer of the ‘Behold the Man’ opera, Andrew Flack, told Spanish daily El Pais that Cecilia was “a hero.”

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