Houston, Houston Grand Opera, Opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Mariachi, San Diego
Me: Mariachi and Opera seem like such differing art forms. Where do you feel they intersect?
Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo: Mariachi and Opera, well, they both tell stories of love, loss, and we have to tell a story with our voices, you know. A lot of the Mariachi songs take a lot of vibrato, a lot of heartache, a lot of beauty, and love of the land. That's what Opera talks about as well, you know. Love and loss. It's just the beauty of the voice.
Me: What was it like premiering CRUZAR LA CARA DE LA LUNA in Houston in 2010?
Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo: It was nerve-racking for me because I had to pray a lot [Laughs] that I wouldn't mess up. I mean, this is my first huge production with a big company like Houston Grand Opera, and I was like, "Ok. Houston Grand Opera, that's cool, you know, but singing with Mariachi Vargas [de Tecalitlán], you know, for me, as a Mariachi singer, I was [Makes a Nervous Squeal]. I better get it right! I better not mess up! Oh my God!" I was praying and crying. I was sick to my stomach, as I am now. I'm getting ready to go to San Diego. Once I hit the stage, it's like, "I have to get it done. That's it. Let's do this. [Laughs] You better do your best woman!" So, I kind of beat myself up in the process. It was really making me nervous, but it was also very exciting. I love the word beautiful, and please excuse me, but it was beautiful! [Laughs] I had this pain in the back of my head, at the end, or even before then, I had this big pain in the back of my head. It was not hurtful, but I guess it was joy that I was feeling? Extreme joy.
Me: What about reprising your role and opening the 2011-12 season at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris?
Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo: That was just amazing. I was excited and happy, even though I was scared. But I was ready to take it. I was like, "Ok, you got this Lupita. You got this." It was actually very, very life changing for me because in all my years of singing Mariachi music, I traveled with M.E.C.A. And now, I'm traveling with another non-profit, which is HGO (Houston Grand Opera), and I was just in awe. I mean words weren't enough to describe my feelings. And again, I felt that pain. But, I'm telling you, full of joy. [Laughs] I didn't know joy could be so painful!
Me: As Houston Grand Opera is preparing to produce CRUZAR LA CARA DE LA LUNA again, what are you most looking forward to about this particular run?
Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo: I guess, CRUZAR [LA CARA DE LA LUNA] is just such a beautiful story, and bringing life to Lupita again is just beautiful. I think that bringing it to the Wortham is the most beautiful part, and being able to show it off fully staged, costumed, and everything to a bigger, bigger audience, that's beautiful, and I'm excited about it.
Me: As an artist, what inspires you?
Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo: Life. Everything in life. Things that happen. Politics. My family inspires me. Just a lot of things inspire me. When I sing Mariachi music, I take in to account and think, "Ok, how am I going to say this person's story?" I put myself in other people's shoes in order to inspire myself, you know.
Me: What advice do you offer to all the young people who aspire to perform professionally?
Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo: I would say, and even though it sounds very cliché, "Follow your dreams." [Laughs] Follow your dreams because they will come true if you keep at it, as mine did. A lot of doors closed on me, but the next door was always open. I'm very, very happy that I wasn't chosen for some things that I was really, really setting my mind on because a huge door opened for me with Houston Grand Opera, and I'm very thankful for it. And I am following my dreams.
CRUZAR LA CARA DE LA LUNA will play two performances in San Diego, California on March 16, 2013. Then the opera will run from March 21 - 24, 2013 at the Brown Theater at The Wortham Center in Houston, Texas. For more information and tickets to the San Diego performances visit http://www.sdopera.com/Home or call (619) 533 -7000. For more information and tickets to the Houston performances visit http://www.houstongrandopera.org or call (713) 228 - 6737.
Photos courtesy of Houston Grand Opera.