San Diego Opera Melds Mariachi with Melodrama in "El Milagro del Recuerdo" This Holiday Season

San Diego Opera Melds Mariachi with Melodrama in "El Milagro del Recuerdo" This Holiday SeasonSource: San Diego Opera
Roma Chang
Published on November 26, 2023

The San Diego Opera hits a high note this holiday season by rolling out "El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering)," a unique blend of classic opera and colorful mariachi music in a heart-tugging narrative poised to resonate with diverse audiences. Launched as a prequel to the pioneer mariachi opera "Cruzar la Cara de la Luna," San Diego's Civic Theatre promises an evocative experience on December 1st and 3rd, as per event details obtained from San Diego Opera's official website.

In Michoacán, Mexico, this family Christmas tale directed by Leonard Foglia brings to stage the saga of Renata and Lupita, whose bracero husbands, Laurentino and Chucho, toil in Uncle Sam's land for the proverbial dollar. A perfect storm brews when Laurentino's surprise Yuletide homecoming stirs more than just festive spirits, igniting a familial debate that questions the essence of togetherness in an age of ambition and change. The story plucked from the pages of real lives, as the San Diego Union-Tribune notes, delves into the consequences of life's pivotal choices set against a backdrop of traditional carols and earnest aspirations.

James Lowe leads the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in weaving the musical tapestry for this one-act, 75-minute opera, sung in Spanish with English and Spanish subtitles for an accessible melodic journey. The performance envelopes the raw talent of Claudia Chapa, previously seen in "The Puccini Duo," alongside opera notables Sishel Claverie and Héctor Vásquez, enriching a tuneful assembly that bridges cultural divides.

The curious hybridization of mariachi and opera was conceived by Lyric Opera of Chicago General Director Anthony Freud and given life through the collaborative genius of the late José "Pepe" Martínez, renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán bandleader and composer, and Foglia. It's a tradition picked up by José's son, Javier, who expresses pride in nurturing the genre his father co-founded. "It was amazing to see it come to life again because this one is my little baby and I watched it getting bigger and bigger until the day of its premiere. It truly is a dream come true," Javier Martínez told San Diego Union-Tribune from his home in Léon, Mexico.

The artistic fiesta begins well before curtain call, with a pre-show party à la Mexicana featuring live music, thematic noshes, and libations, adding a pinch of fiesta to the operatic evening. For those yearning for a deeper understanding of this cultural convergence, pre-opera talks are slated to enlighten attendees with inside scoops prior to the evening and matinee performances. 

For a groundbreaking third installment of mariachi opera from the spirited Martínez family, the San Diego Opera continues to celebrate the vibrant amalgamation of stories and songs that resonate from border to shining border. Tickets ranging from a wallet-friendly $13 to a premium $205 can be snatched online for those looking to join this mosaic of music and memory.