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San Diego Opera Stages A New Mariachi Opera

Same creative team from ‘Cruzar’ is behind ‘El Pasado Nunca se Termina’

In 2013, San Diego Opera staged its first and very successful mariachi opera. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando previews the new mariachi opera “El Pasado Nunca se Termina” opening this weekend.


Companion Viewing

"Romántico" (2005)

"Mariachi: The Spirit of Mexico" (2009)

"Mariachi High" (2012)

Once again San Diego Opera challenges preconceived notions about what opera is and expands the horizons about what it can be with the new Mariachi opera "El Pasado Nunca se Termina" that has two performances this Saturday at the Civic Theater.

In 2013, San Diego Opera tried something new. It staged its first Mariachi opera and Leonard Folglia served as both librettist and director.

"I lived in Mexico for seven years, so I had great familiarity with mariachi music so I knew immediately that it would be an emotional story and a personal story the way Mariachi music usually is," Foglia said when interviewed in 2013. "And it’s very emotional music that gets people excited and moves people."

"Cruzar La Cara De La Luna" was a sold out hit. The Mariachi opera all started with the music of Mariachi Vargas. Once the artistic head of the Houston Grand Opera heard them he commissioned “Cruzar La Cara De La Luna,” a Mariachi opera.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando sits in on a rehearsal of the San Diego Opera's "Cruzar," the first mariachi opera.

"Well, the only directive I was given was I’d like to create something that would have meaning for the Hispanic community in Houston. I knew right away that I wanted to tell a story more from the Mexican point of view than the American point of view," Foglia explained. "At first I worried about being the one writing the libretto not being Hispanic. My heritage is Italian and my father came over from Italy and I’m first generation and once I hooked into remembering a lot of his sense of displacement and his sense of always longing for the old country, that I really grew up in that kind of environment myself."

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg

Ricardo Rivera performs with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán in the Mariachi opera, "El Pasado Nunca Se Termina." The opera spans a century and two countries, Mexico and the U.S. The photo is from Lyric Opera in Chicago.

Now the same creative team brings a new Mariachi opera to San Diego, "El Pasado Nunca se Termina." Foglia returns as director and librettist, and José “Pepe” Martínez once again contributes the score.

But while "Cruzar La Cara De La Luna" focused on the border and the immigrant experience, "El Pasado Nunca se Termina" (translated as "The Past is Never Finished") looks more to how we define family. It is set in Mexico and Chicago with a story spanning a century.

If you want to catch this mariachi opera, don’t hesitate, tickets are once again selling fast.

Two hours before each performance, you can enjoy mariachi bands along with food vendors on the concourse in front of the Civic Theatre.


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