IT IS WITH PROFOUND SORROW THAT REPERTORIO ESPAÑOL ANNOUNCES THE PASSING OF ONE OF ITS MOST MEMORABLE ACTRESSES, OFELIA GONZÁLEZ
Repertorio Español is saddened to announce the passing of the actress Ofelia González at 103 years old on September 25th, in Cape Coral, Florida. Ms. González, a resident ensemble member at Repertorio from 1973 until her retirement in 1998, is the only actress to have won an OBIE in 1992 without ever having performed in English.
Ofelia González, who won 6 Best Actress Awards in her native Cuba, rose to fame with her portrayals of Serafina Della Rosa in “The Rose Tattoo” and the Mother in “The Guns of Mother Carrar.” In Cuban films, she appeared in “Memories of Underdevelopment” and “Tulipa.” With her inability to live with the political situation, Ms. González left Cuba with her family in 1971, and made her New York debut in 1972 as the lead in “The House of Bernarda Alba” at INTAR.
In 1973, she joined the ensemble of Repertorio Español under the artistic direction of René Buch where she created some of her most notable roles. Renowned for her portrayals of the Lorca matriarchs, she also excelled in long-running comedies, “Café con leche” and “Botánica.” In 1974, she composed her most memorable role of Celestina receiving audience and critical raves throughout the United States and at the Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico.
She created the Heartless Grandmother in Jorge Alí Triana’s premiere production of García Márquez’s “Innocent Eréndira,” and toured as the lead in “La Celestina” and Amanda in “The Glass Menagerie” during a USICA-sponsored tour of 12 Latin American capitals.
During her 25 years in the ensemble of Repertorio, she noted in a TCG 1993 article: “There is growth when you work with the same people. You can try things and know there is a safety net.” She saw herself as a mentor for the Company’s younger members, teaching them not how to act, but to have appreciation for their craft. “I feel that I have to teach them the responsibilities of the work, respect for the audience,” she said, “and that I must show them how that can be achieved. In that sense, they can learn from my acting.”
Besides the OBIE and numerous ACE and other Latino awards, in 1994, she received a New York State Governor’s Arts Award.
Ofelia González is survived by her daughter, Jenny, and her granddaughters, Vivian and Betty.
The Funeral will be held at the San José Funeral Home, 250 East Fourth Avenue, Hialeah, Florida, on Tuesday, October 4th, 2022, at 11 am.
Ms. González’s papers are at the University of Miami Cuban Heritage Collection.
From The New York Times
Thomas Task, May 31, 1979: More than even these was the playing of Ofelia González as the Nurse in ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ who made every gesture meaningful and enriched every scene in which she appeared.
Richard F. Shepard, November 23, 1979: Ofelia González is a powerful, perfect Bernarda Alba projecting authority and cruelty borne of pride, yet revealingly human within the limits of her society and personality.
Richard F. Shepard, March 3, 1980: Ofelia González is La Celestina and she plays it beautifully, a woman who wheedles, laughs, fawns, rages and conspires with such skill that one never tires of watching her gestures or hearing her voice. Should Miss González ever work in English, she would be a smash for the general public, but she is no less so in Spanish.
Richard F. Shepard, July 31, 1980: Ofelia González, in the role of the mother in ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ is a powerful performer, who dominates firmly but lovingly.
Richard F. Shepard, 9/23/1984: The crusty, outspoken grandmother…is played by the company’s wonderful Ofelia González, an actress who always commands the stage in whatever she is appearing, classical or contemporary. Miss González evinces a regal presence and runs through a range of strong emotions in one telephone call that would be a challenge for another to deal with in an entire scene.
D.J.R. Bruckner, October 6, 1988: Ofelia González can speak volumes in silence with an eye or a brow and her voice always suggests there is no such thing as an innocent remark.
D.J.R. Bruckner, May 14, 1989: Ofelia González, as Bernarda Alba, makes you believe absolutely that her character is absurd, terrifying, irresistible and pitiable all at once.
D.J.R. Bruckner, September 1,1989: Ofelia González, as the title character in ‘La Nonna,’ is the key to the comedy. Every time the play seems to be coming too close to dangerous emotions like sorrow, compassion or indignation, she rolls on stage just a bit more imperious, and hungry, than before.