Press Room

Houston Grand Opera Mariachi opera a hit in Paris, now on CD

Houston Grand Opera crossed the Atlantic to open the season at the illustrious Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with the first-ever Mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon). This pioneering work about the nature of the immigrant experience – with music by composer and writer José “Pepe” Martínez (music director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán) and lyrics by Broadway director and author Leonard Foglia – struck a universal chord. Reporting from Paris, the reviewer for Classical TV said: “This was heartfelt, sophisticated, shockingly melodic music that is direct and brimming with emotions. . . At the end of this moving work, Théâtre du Châtelet shook with applause. You could hear weeping (I was not alone in getting teary-eyed), but most of all you heard the shouts of joy at the discovery of something wonderful and fresh.” A recording of Cruzar – captured live at last season’s world premiere in Houston – is now available on CD from Albany Records, showcasing a score that resonates with plaintive, folk-like balladry as well as rousing Latin dance rhythms.
Perryn Leech, managing director of Houston Grand Opera, gave his own report from the Théâtre du Châtelet: “The final performance in Paris was as electric as the first night, and the rhythmic clapping was like another number added to the show. Jean-Luc Choplin, who is the general director at the Châtelet, was onstage at the end hugging and kissing everyone and saying how he had no idea that Parisians would, or indeed could, react in such a way. I have had inquiries from quite literally all over the world, and we are hopeful that some of these will lead to future opportunities to show that relevant new work is not only needed, but can also engage new audiences and broaden the appeal of what we all do.”
Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera through its “Song of Houston: Mexico 2010” project (in celebration of the anniversaries of Mexican independence and revolution), Cruzar la Cara de la Luna chronicles three generations of a family divided by countries and cultures, depicting the emotional-spiritual connection to one’s country of origin; the challenges of being a stranger in a strange land; and the very nature of home that is at the heart of the immigrant experience. As in the Paris performances, the CD of Cruzar features Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán – the world’s top mariachi ensemble, led by Pepe Martínez – along with mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte as Renata (praised by the Houston Chronicle for her “intensity and conviction”) and baritone Octavio Moreno as Laurentino (hailed as “warm and sympathetic”).
The invitation for Cruzar la Cara de la Luna to open the season at Théâtre du Châtelet followed the sold-out Houston premiere performances at the Wortham Center and Talento Bilingüe de Houston in 2010. The 2,000-seat Châtelet in Paris is renowned for staging original, compelling productions from around the world, offering a platform to singers, musicians, actors, and dancers who have forged new paths across the international arts landscape. Enthusing over last December’s premiere run in Houston, the Houston Chronicle called Cruzar “a bold first-time fusion” that “succeeded on all fronts.”
Houston Grand Opera
Houston Grand Opera – led by artistic director Patrick Summers, one of the nation’s top opera conductors – opens its 2011-12 season on October 21 with a new production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville starring Nathan Gunn, Ana María Martínez, and Lawrence Brownlee. Along with revivals of Fidelio (starring Karita Mattila and opening October 28), La traviata, Don Carlos, and Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda (with Joyce DiDonato in the title role), HGO will present a new production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Since its inception in 1955, Houston Grand Opera has grown from a small regional organization into an internationally renowned opera company. The company enjoys a reputation for commissioning and producing new works, including 44 world premieres and six American premieres since 1973. In addition to producing and performing world-class opera, HGO contributes to the cultural enrichment of Houston and the nation through a diverse and innovative program of performances, community events, and education projects that reaches the widest possible public. HGO has toured extensively, including trips to Europe and Asia, and it is the only opera company to have won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and two Emmy awards. HGO’s performances are broadcast nationally and internationally over the WFMT Radio Network, New York City’s WQXR, the European Broadcasting Union and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Media Contacts
Houston Grand Opera: Claire Vince, senior publicist, [email protected], 713-546-0278 / 832-738-2611.
21C: Glenn Petry, [email protected], (212) 625-2038.!/hougrandopera

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