José “Pepe” Mártinez and Leonard Foglia’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, To Cross the Face of the Moon, weaves an emotional and profound story of a family divided by the US Mexican border. A wife, Renata, stays behind in Mexico while a husband, Laurentino, seeks work on the other side. He is confident that he will make money to improve their lives. She is wise enough to see the price of Laurentino’s absence: distance between him and their son. A border crossing goes terribly wrong and the result dissolves the family. Yet something remains, as mysterious as the flocks of migrating Monarch butterflies that seem to cross the face of the moon.
This work is full of crossings: crossing the border, crossing between life and death, between memory and the present, between this world and the next. It is also the world’s first mariachi opera, a hybrid fusion of two musical worlds that seem to flourish and find new dimensions in one another. The music has a popular feel to it, but it is woven with complexity. Dark operatic moments are deepened by moments filled with the brilliant playfulness of mariachi. It becomes impossible to say where one genre begins and one ends. This is not a mish-mash, but something seamless and new.
If you are hesitant about opera or about mariachi this is a great show for you. The intimacy and the credibility of the story are such that the audience is drawn in without concentrating on style or technique, although the performers certainly possess both in generous amounts. This is simply a very poignant family story, the kind that happen every day around us. Audiences in San Diego, Houston and Chicago will get the chance to see this work within the next month and a half as it tours with the original cast. You do not want to miss it. Here is a little taste.
Video via Théâtre du Châtelet on Youtube.
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