When the cast of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna takes the stage at the Granada Theater on October 1-3, the message of this fascinating and powerful mariachi opera will coincide with some of the facts surrounding its production. Just as the live story portrays the resilience of a family reuniting after a painful period of separation, this Opera Santa Barbara production by Cruzar promulgates the rebirth of our city’s performing arts community after a long pandemic hiatus.
The show, which has enjoyed a distinguished history of international success since its premiere at the Houston Grand Opera in 2010, represents an ingenious discovery on the part of its creators, JosÃ© “Pepe” MartÃnez, founder of Mariachi Vargas de TecalitlÃ¡n, and librettist LÃ©onard Foglia . It turns out that for a variety of reasons both cultural and musical, opera and mariachi make a great combination. In Cruzar, rather than pairing opera singers on stage with a traditional orchestra in the pit, Martinez and Foglia used some abilities of traditional mariachi bands to bring all the musicians on stage and get them singing, functioning as if they were the chorus of a Greek tragedy.
And Cruzar is tragic, because the Velasquez family must face the death of their patriarch, Laurentino (Bernardo Bermudez). But through the agony of the death of immigrant Laurentino and the shared experience of his grief among his children and grandchildren, something new was born. Because Laurentino immigrated from MichoacÃ¡n to Texas and fathered children on both sides of the border, his complex legacy requires all those he leaves behind – his two sons, Rafael (Daniel Montenegro) and Marc (EfraÃn SolÃs), and their daughters, Renata (Jessica Gonzalez-Rodriguez) and Diana (Raphaella Medina), to make peace with him and find a way to love and understand each other as descendants of one remarkable individual.
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Speaking with Kostis Protopapas, the artistic director and general of Opera Santa Barbara, about this extraordinary production, I was struck by the foresight of his decision to bring this particular work to Santa Barbara this season in light of what’s going on in this country right now. As arts organizations strive to understand and bridge the growing divide between their historic audiences and the emerging demographics of a new century, and as our political leaders clash over how to treat those who are humanely. seek asylum here, the message of Cruzar couldn’t be more timely.
The shapes that âcross the face of the moonâ in the title of the show are butterflies, with their migratory habits and extravagant, metamorphic life cycles. Through the 50-year period described by this visionary opera, we see that the life cycles and migratory experiences of human beings are no less dramatic, and just as rare and wonderful.
In addition to being the first major production in Granada following the pandemic, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna is also the first of five major productions to be shown this season of Opera Santa Barbara. The next three – the double bill of He tabarro and El amor brujo (29 and 31 October), Mixes (January 14 and 16, 2022), and Like a (March 25 and 27, 2022), will all be at Lobero. The final offer of the season, La traviata (June 10 and 12, 2022), will be back at Granada.
We are very fortunate to have one of the most creative and dedicated opera companies in the world in Santa Barbara, and with OSB’s new policy of a “you decide the price” box office, there is no is no excuse for not attending at least one of these amazing shows. Visit operasb.org for details.
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