Music by Javier Martinez, Libretto by Leonard Foglia
San Diego Civic Theatre
1100 Third Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Friday, December 1, 2023 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 2:00 pm
In a small town in Michoacán, Mexico, two women, Renata and Lupita, are raising their families while their husbands, Laurentino and Chucho, work as braceros in the United States. Laurentino manages to come home for Christmas, but his return enflames an ongoing argument with Renata about his long work trips. Will Laurentino’s urge to support his family overshadow Renata’s desire to keep her family together in a rapidly changing world?
This new mariachi opera, a prequel to 2013’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, lovingly explores family traditions in the face of life-changing decisions and dreams of something more.
Sung in Spanish, this opera marks the welcome return of mezzo-soprano Claudia Chapa, who made her Company debut as La Badessa/Zita in 2022’s The Puccini Duo, as Josefina. She is joined by mezzo-soprano Sishel Claverie as Renata and baritone Héctor Vásquez, who made his Company debut as Capitán in 2018’s Florencia en el Amazonas, as Aba. Stage Director Leonard Foglia (Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, El pasado nunca se termina, and Moby-Dick), returns to stage his libretto.
LANGUAGE – Sung in Spanish with English and Spanish text projected above the stage
RUN TIME – 1 hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission.
The pre-opera talk begins at 6:40 pm before the 7:30 pm Friday evening performance. The Sunday matinee pre-opera talk begins at 1:10 pm before the 2:00 pm curtain.
Stay after the performance for a Talk-Back. Once the curtain falls, there will be a 10-minute break, then join us in the front of the Dress Circle section where you can ask questions of the stars and cast (subject to availability), and find out what really happened onstage and backstage during the performance!
Mexican Mezzo-soprano, Sishel Claverie, enjoys a versatile career in opera, concert works, new music and multidisciplinary collaborations.
Recent engagements include her debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in Leonard Bernstein’s MASS; a concert of French baroque music with Opera Lafayette; and her appearance as Carmen/Lola in the short film Chinese Laundry. This Spring, Sishel performed as one of the Weird Sisters in Heartbeat Opera’s
adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth, Lady M, experimenting with electronic sound design.
A champion of new operatic works, Ms. Claverie has been involved in a number of world premieres, including singing the role of Carmelita in Ted Rosenthal’s Dear Erich, with the New York City Opera; Fia in Jake Landau’s latest opera Pietá; and as
Gloria in the video opera series Everything for Dawn by Experiments in Opera.
Other performance highlights include the title role in Piazzolla’s tango-opera Maria de Buenos Aires, Daniela in the musical In The Heights, with Skylight Music Theatre; and Carmen with Heartbeat Opera, which was praised by The New York Times as “Riveting”.
Sishel holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of Houston and a Master’s Degree in Music from Rice University.
She currently resides in New York City.
Vanessa Alonzo made her Company debut as Lupita in 2013’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon) and Juana in 2015’s El Pasado Nunca Se Termina (The Past is Never Finished). Alonzo originated the role of Lupita in the premiere of Houston Grand Opera’s El Milagro del Recuerdo by Leonard Foglia and Javier Martinez in 2019. In 2021, she reprised the role with Arizona Opera and again with Houston Grand Opera in 2022. She is an original cast member since 2010 for Jose ‘Pepe’ Martinez and Leonard Foglia’s Cruzar La Cara de La Luna/To Cross the Face of the Moo, and reprised the role nationally at Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Arizona Opera, and Fort Worth Opera sharing the stage with world-renown, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. Alonzo reprised the role of Lupita accompanied by multiple Grammy award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos in 2018 for New York City Opera and El Paso Opera. Internationally Alonzo has performed Lupita in Paris, France at the Théâtre du Châtelet and in Quito Ecuador at Teatro Nacional Sucre. She also created the role of Juana for the second mariachi opera, El Pasado Nunca Se Termina/The Past is Never Finished also by Foglia and Martinez. She was part of the tri-city premiere tour with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and San Diego with Mariachi Vargas De Tecalitlan. Alonzo reprised the role as part of the Fort Worth Opera Festival in 2019 with Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán. Alonzo’s mariachi style has welcomed opportunities to sing for different prestigious events such as Houston Grand Opera Ball in 2019 with Mariachi Los Camperos and Minnesota Opera’s Ópera Afuera at Allianz Field in the Fall of 2021. She was also accompanied by Trío Chapultepec for Austin Opera’s Concerts at the Consulate series. Then she performed for Southbend Symphony Orchestra for their Día De Los Muertos 2022 festivities, also joined by Trío Chapultepec. Vanessa is the lead female vocalist in the Houston-based Latin-fusion group Los Guerreros de La Musica. Together they have won the Best Latin Band in the East Texas Music Awards. Vanessa was awarded the International Leadership Award by the Texas Women’s Empowerment Foundation in 2014 for her outstanding career. In 1999, she won the Best in the US Vocalist in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza vocal competition. A competition judged by the world-renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. Her notable credits include tours to Ireland, Mexico, Norway, and Vietnam with MECA Mariachi. In 2002, she performed for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with MECA Mariachi. Television credits include El Show de Cristina on Univision as a participant in Festival de Rancheras and a finalist on Estrella TV’s Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento in 2011. She was a participant of the 1999 and 2000 Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi y Charrería in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
Mezzo-soprano Claudia Chapa made her Company debut as La Badessa/Zita in 2022’s The Puccini Duo. She made her Houston Grand Opera debut originating the role of Josefina in the world premiere of El Milagro del Recuerdo–a role which she has reprised at Arizona Opera in 2021 and again in encore performances at Houston Grand Opera in 2022. Recently, she debuted Fricka and Waltraute in Virginia Opera’s production of Wagner’s The Valkyrie, returned to the role of Berta (The Barber of Seville)) at Austin Opera, and Gertrude (Roméo et Juliette) with Opera San Antonio. In addition to her active performing career, Claudia is an in-demand concert curator specializing in Hispanic/Latinx programming. She was recently appointed as the inaugural curator of Hispanic and Latinx programming for the Austin Opera. This program is incredibly important to her personal artistic mission and she’s proud to curate Concerts at the Consulate/Conciertos en el Consulado in the new partnership between Austin Opera and the Mexican Consulate. She will be featured as soloist and curator of the upcoming Bella Noche de Música at Austin Opera. Last season, Ms. Chapa made company and role debuts as Filipyevna in Eugene Onegin with The Dallas Symphony, as alto soloist for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the National Philharmonic. She participated and co-curated in the concert Entre Amigos which opened Fort Worth Opera’s historic 75th Season. She debuted Mother Superior in Charlottesville Opera’s The Sound of Music, sang Alisa in Opera San Antonio’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and returned to OperaDelaware as Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro. In 2020-2021, she performed the Title Role in Douglas Pew’s Penny in her debut with Opera Grand Rapids. Other recent highlights include recording Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Philharmonic at the famed Abbey Roads Studios, a return to Alabama Symphony as featured soloist in El amor brujo (de Falla) and Neruda Songs (Lieberson), house and role debuts as Fenena (Nabucco) with West Bay Opera, Azucena (Il trovatore) with St. Petersburg Opera Company, Winter Opera St. Louis, Ortrud (Lohengrin) and Hedwige (William Tell) with Opera Southwest, Mary (The Flying Dutchman) and Dryade (Ariadne auf Naxos) with Austin Opera, the Fairy Godmother in the US premiere of Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella with Opera San Jose, Berta (The Barber of Sevile) with San Antonio Opera, Zita (Gianni Schicchi) and Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica) with St. Petersburg Opera, Zita with Opera Delaware and Baltimore Concert Opera, Marcellina (The Marriage of Figaro) with Charlottesville Opera, Ulrica (A Masked Ball), Madame Flora (The Medium) and The Witch (Hänsel und Gretel) with Opera in the Heights, Bloody Mary (South Pacific) with Gulf Coast Symphony, Dame Quickly (Falstaff) with Winter Opera St. Louis and Opera in the Heights, Marthe (Faust) with Indianapolis Opera, Third Lady (The Magic Flute) with The Glimmerglass Festival and Austin Lyric Opera; and Alisa (Lucia di Lammermoor) with Winter Opera St. Louis.
Baritone Héctor Vásquez made his Company debut as Capitán in 2018’s Florencia en la Amazonas. He created the role Aba in the 2019 world premiere for Houston Grand Opera where has also been seen as Emperor Altoum in Turandot and Benoît/Alcindoro in La bohème, George Benton in Dead Man Walking, Scarpia in Tosca, the title role in Rigoletto, Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen, Alvaro in Florencia en el Amazonas for the world premiere, and Schaunard in La bohème. He has appeared with major opera companies, orchestras, and festivals including the Metropolitan Opera; San Francisco Opera; Utah Opera; Seattle Opera; Opera Colorado; LA Opera; the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the San Francisco Symphony; the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; and the Ojai Festival. Vásquez is on the faculty of the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston and is a voice faculty member of Houston Grand Opera’s Community and Learning’s Bauer Family High School Voice Studio. He is also the co-director of the High School Voice Program at the Brevard Music Center.
Mezzo-soprano Guadalupe Paz made her Company debut as Mercedes in Carmen in 2019, created the role of Frida Kahlo in the world premiere of El ultimó sueño de Frida y Diego in 2022, and was last heard as La Maestra Dele Novizie in Suor Angelica. Notable appearances include Melibea in Il Viaggio a Reims and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Bellas Artes National Opera, Rosina in The Barber of Seville and Angelina in Cinderella with Teatro del Bicentenario and Bellas Artes National Opera, Isolier in Le Comte Ory with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco, and Maddalena in Il Viaggio a Reims at the Rossini Opera Festival. Her concert repertory includes Glagolitic Mass at the International Cervantino Festival, Ode to Common Things with La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, Tres Canciones para Orquestra y Mezzosoprano at International Festival Instrumenta, and Seven Deadly Sins at the Aspen Music Festival.
Leonard Foglia is a theater and opera director and librettist. His work has been seen at San Diego Opera in 2012’s Moby-Dick (director), 2013’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (director/librettist), and 2015’s El Pasado Nunca Se Termina (director/librettist). Original Broadway productions include Master Class with Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald (also West End with Patti LuPone, National tour with Faye Dunaway), Thurgood with Laurence Fishburne (filmed for HBO), and The People in the Picture with Donna Murphy. Broadway revivals include The Gin Game with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson, On Golden Pond with Mr. Jones, and Wait Until Dark with Quentin Tarantino and Marisa Tomei. Off-Broadway work includes Anna Deavere Smith’s Let Me Down Easy (filmed for PBS), The Stendhal Syndrome with Isabella Rossellini, One Touch of Venus (Encores!), and If Memory Serves, Lonely Planet. Regional work includes Unusual Acts of Devotion, Distracted, Paper Doll, The Secret Letters of Jackie and Marilyn, The Subject Was Roses, A Coffin in Egypt, and God’s Man in Texas. Opera work includes the world premieres of Moby-Dick (filmed for PBS), Dallas Opera, San Francisco Opera, Everest (Dallas Opera); Cold Mountain (Santa Fe Opera); The End of the Affair (Houston Grand Opera, etc.); Three Decembers (Houston Grand Opera). His production of Dead Man Walking has been seen across the country. As a librettist, he wrote (and directed) El Pasado Nunca Se Termina/The Past Is Never Finished, with composer José “Pepe” Martínez, commissioned by and premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago. A Coffin in Egypt, with composer Ricky Ian Gordon was commissioned by and premiered at Houston Grand Opera and has played, Opera Philadelphia, Chicago Opera Theater, LA and The American Songbook at Lincoln Center. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna/To Cross the Face of the Moon with composer Martínez was commissioned by and premiered at Houston Grand Opera and has played, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Arizona Opera and Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
It’s Christmas Eve in 1962 in a small town in Michoacán, Mexico, and the tight-knit community is rehearsing for their annual pastorela. In this traditional folk drama, a group of shepherds tries to reach the city of Bethlehem to meet baby Jesus by following a bright star that is guiding their way. They are stopped by Satan, who tries to tempt them off their path, but Saint Michael the Archangel defends them from the prince of evil. While some of the older members of the community have performed almost every role over the years, 7-year-old Rafael will be participating in his very first pastorela this year.
The town’s plaza is decorated for the festivities, and townspeople are dressed as angels and shepherds. Renata and Lupita are best friends, and their husbands are away in the United States, working to help support their families. This is the first time they will be separated for the holidays.