Houston Grand Opera's 41st World Premiere Opera CRUZAR LA CARA DE LA LUNA/TO CROSS THE FACE OF THE MOON premiered in the Brown Theater at the Wortham Center on November 13, 2012. The performance played in front of 2,400 patrons, the largest-ever audience in the Brown Theater. Following that rousing premiere, CRUZAR LA CARA DE LA LUNA and its original cast opened the 2011 season at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The production ran for six performances. Upon arriving in Paris, 80% of the tickets were already sold, and word of mouth lead to complete sell outs for the final three performances. Last night, the gorgeous and stirring CRUZAR LA CARA DE LA LUNA opened in the Wortham Center's Brown Theater again, earning thunderous applause and sincere admiration from the audience.
CRUZAR LA CARA DE LA LUNA, presented in a non-linear fashion, follows 50 years of Laurentino Velásquez's journeys from México to the United States and back. As the show opens, Laurentino's American son, Mark, is handling the decline of his father's health. Throughout the show, Mark and his daughter straddle the two cultures, learn about a long-forgotten family secret, and compellingly reassess the meaning of family.
Leonard Foglia's book and lyrics and José "Pepe" Martínez's music and lyrics pristinely centers on the metaphors of the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly and the winged migration of the Monarch butterflies from México to the United States, which always culminates in the fourth generation returning to México. Together, Leonard Foglia and José "Pepe" Martínez have crafted an inspiring and beautiful tale. The immaculately written story and lyrics beautifully move the audience through a wide spectrum of emotions. For many, the story of Larentino Velásquez is the story of their family. For others, hopefully it is an eye-opening experience that will generate peaceful and compassionate discussions about immigration.
Direction by Leonard Foglia and Music Direction by Chía Patiño moves the heartwarming and heartwrenching tale along at a comfortable pace, neither artist lets a moment drag or lose the momentum of the plot. Likewise, Chía Patiño highlights the emotionality of the score and lyrics, making each song's weight and mood vividly palpable.
Choreography by Keturah Stickann is culturally appropriate and masterfully recreates the intricate foot work of the waltz, huapango, and other exuberant and energetic Mexican dances.
Octavio Moreno's Laurentino is radiantly charismatic. The audience sees a man who wants nothing more than to be the best husband and father imaginable, longing to provide for them in only the best of ways possible. Octavio Moreno infuses Laurentino with a strong spirit and soaring dreams, making him relatable to all. As an elderly man, his desires to return home resonate profoundly in the audience eliciting honest emotional responses and easily bringing fourth our tears. Moreover, his rich baritone voice dexterously and delightfully glides through the stunning score. For example, his voice soars on "Los Ojos de tu Madre/Your Mother's Eye," leaving no dry eye in the house.
Cecilia Duarte magnificently plays and sings Renata. Her gorgeous Mezzo-soprano fills the auditorium with warmth and light every time she opens her mouth to sing. Her character's passion and soul are always on full display, ensuring that Cecilia Duarte's graceful performance is enigmatic and wondrously haunting. She deftly warms and breaks our hearts with her enchanting and perfected performance.
As American born son Mark, Brian Shircliffe's plaintive voice opens the show with a striking rendition of "En Frágiles Alas/On Fragile Wings," which is accompanied by him on a solo guitar. He adroitly creates a character in tune and struggling with his Mexican-American identity and heritage. Hesitant to contact family in México, his dynamic portrayal of Mark's journey and his lush baritone voice win the audience over, adding depth to the show's dazzling themes.
Brittany Wheeler play's Laurentino's American born granddaughter, Diana, with charming and youthful pizzazz. Upon learning about her family in México, she is fascinated and longs to connect with them. Brittany Wheeler makes Diana's unending love for Laurentino tangible, especially when she finally gets to sing at the show's climax. Her bright and spirited voice glimmers with electrifying life on the thrilling and fantastic "El Padre de me Padre/The Father of My Father."
David Guzmán's portrayal of Laurentino's Mexican born son Rafael is remarkably and realistically rife with emotional turmoil. The young man has been raised to have disdain for his father, faulting Laurentino for the death of his mother. Like Brian Shircliffe's dynamic Mark, David Guzmán breathes emotionally vibrant life into his Rafael, adding a compelling layer of sincere emotional depth to the production. Moreover, David Guzmán's shining tenor voice elegantly spins through the air, landing with deft skill in the ears, minds, and hearts of the audience.
As Lupita and Chucho, the Mariachi voices of Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo and Saúl Ávalos make numbers like "Diez Veces Mas/10 Times More" both memorable and highly entertaining. Their characters convince Lauretino that traveling to the United Sates for employment is the best way to provide for a family in México, discussing the relative wealth he will have. Their characters are humorous, engaging, and full of heart. Moreover, Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo's vocals on "Un Pueblo sin Hombres/A Town Without Men" are beautifully pristine, increasing the poignancy of the song.
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David is a Special Education teacher with a passion and love for the performing arts. He aspires to become a full time theatre critic and/or professor of Drama as Literature. |