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Mariachi Vargas returns to the US with new opera

Mariachi Vargas returns to the US with new opera

Posted by Ricardo Vázquez on November 20, 2014

José Pepe Martínez, director of the Mariachi Vargas de Tecatitlán, never thought he would write an opera, and he did it. It is entitled "Cruzar la cara de la luna" (To Cross the Face of the Moon), and talks about a Mexican family that migrated to the United States.

Now he will present a new opera called "El pasado nunca se termina" (The Past is Never Finished) in Spanish and English. Set on a Mexican hacienda in 1910, prior to the Mexican Revolution, the story traces how the country's cultural conflicts and nationalistic struggles shape one family across generations. The script was written by American writer Leonardo Foglia.

It will be presented at Chicago's Lyric Opera in March 2015, in San Diego in April and at the Houston Grand Opera in May, with the participation of Mexican mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoé Velasco, who will soon debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, and Luis Ledesma, an international baritone.

"Don Pepe", as Martínez is known, will not witness the premier of his second opera, because he started having memory problems shortly after completing the first one, said his son José Martínez Jr.

The cast also includes Abigaíl Santos Villalobos, Paul de la Rosa, Ricardo Rivera, Kirstin Chávez and Sebastien de la Cruz, a child who recently caused a stir in the United States because he sang the U.S. national anthem dressed as a mariachi.

"The Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán was founded 117 years ago. Many have tried to imitate it, but it is not possible," Martínez Jr. said. We are the first mariachi "to make opera. I do not know where this will take us, but we are conscious that we are somehow making history", he added.

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