<span>Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitl&aacute;n</span>
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2017 for Fort Worth Opera

The Fort Worth Opera's 2017 season advances its Opera of the Americas initiative with the North Texas premiere of a mariachi opera. Plus Carmen and Voir Dire.

published Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Photo: Karen Almond
Carmen at Kansas City Opera


Fort Worth — The Fort Worth Opera's 2017 festival season will have the North Texas premiere of the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, with music by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, as part of its expanding Opera of the Americas initiative, its mission to program works by composers of Latin America. That opera, which is part of a growing number of mariachi operas (another one of which we covered in Houston), will have two performances at Bass Performance Hall. The warhorse of the season is Bizet's Spain-set, French-sung Carmen, and the newer work on a smaller stage is Voir Dire, which FWO presented in its 2015 Frontiers lineup, and will be performed at McDavid Studio, next to Bass Hall. As has been the case worth Fort Worth Opera for the past few seasons, supertitles will be in both English and Spanish.

The festival kicks off with a concert with soprano Ava Pine, baritone Michael Mayes and other performers.


Below is the complete news release with descriptions, dates and ticketing info:

Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced today details of the second phase of the company's landmark 10-year initiative Opera of the Americas, as well as the bold and exciting productions scheduled for the 2017 Festival season, running April 15-May 7.

The 2017 FWOpera Festival will include a time-honored classic, Bizet's incendiary tale of tragic seduction, Carmen; a vibrant, contemporary mainstage production unlike anything in FWOpera 's repertoire, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna; and the riveting regional premiere of 2015 Frontiers winner, Voir Dire. The Festival will also usher in the fifth year of Fort Worth Opera's critically-acclaimed new works showcase, Frontiers.

With the goal of presenting operas that reflect the diverse demographics of the North Texas community, FWOpera will embark on the second phase of its Opera of the Americas initiative in 2017. Titled Noches de Opera (Nights of Opera), the new phase will consist of a four-year exploration of contemporary Spanish language operas by Latino and Latina composers and librettists from across the Americas. Beginning next season with the groundbreaking mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna and extending through the 2020 Festival, Noches de Opera will bring compelling and culturally relevant operas to North Texas audiences from an often overlooked, but ever-expanding body of works.

Photo: Arizona Opera
Cruzar la Cara de la Luna at Arizona Opera

In making the announcement, FWOpera General Director Darren K. Woods stated, "Throughout the last few years, Fort Worth Opera has wor ked to move away from merely serving as an entertainment option toward becoming an established community service organization, where we can use our artistic resources to help enrich the lives of all those living in our community. Through this process, we recognized a deficit in our programming for our Latino audiences. So, in partnership with Latino community leaders, we created Noches de Opera with the hope of engaging the vibrant Latino population of Fort Worth and North Texas with stories that are meaningful and relevant to their experiences.

Woods continued, "Noches de Opera builds on FWOpera's mission of expanding the horizons of our audiences through the production of new works. By bringing a compelling lineup of Spanish language operas to our stage, we're giving our audiences a fresh, new Festival experience, while also giving a voice to a diverse body of operatic works that are rarely performed. Looking ahead, we hope to partner with other like-minded companies to help build the canon of Spanish language operas."

In addition to the Festival programming, Noches de Opera will include year-round community programming in partnership with the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas.

The second phase of FWOpera's Opera of the Americas' initiative kicks off with the exhilarating mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon). Featuring the world famous Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. The opera has been praised by critics in Houston, Chicago, Phoenix, and Paris as a "stunning and emotional work" (Houston Chronicle). A one-of-a-kind operatic experience, Cruzor la Caro de lo Luna blends the folk traditions of mariachi music with opera, to tell a gripping story of a family divided by borders and their struggle to exist between two cultures.

The work will introduce FWOpera audiences to a cast of fresh faces, all making their Festival debuts. Leading the cast is Octavio Moreno as Laurentino a dying grandfather whose memories carry the audience between his post and present. Joining him is Brian Shircliffe as his American son Mark and David Guzman as his Mexican son Rafael. Mark's daughter Diana is sung by Brittany Wheeler and Cecilia Duarte plays Laurentino's wife, Renata. Leonard Foglia will make his FWOpera Festival directorial debut with musical direction by Jose "Pepe" Martinez.

Fort Worth Opera is going bigger and bolder in 2017! Next year's Festival commences with a star studded Grand Opening Night Concert at Bass Performance Hall, featuring Fort Worth native Ava Pine (The Daughter of the RegimentLysistrata, Silent Night), baritone Michael Mayes (Lysistrata, Glory Denied, Carmen), additional Fort Worth favorites, and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Joe lllick. Once the rapturous applause from our one-night-only concert has come to an end, FWOpera's electrifying season is only beginning to heat up!

The following weekend, Bizet's operatic tour de force Carmen opens. Set against on alluring Spanish landscape, this classic tale of love, lust, jealousy and vengeful crimes of passion is sure to captivate audiences in a zesty, traditional production. Leading the cast as the fiery femme fatale is mezzo soprano Audrey Babcock (With Blood, With Ink) in the title role. A world-renowned interpreter of the character, she'll be joined on stage by Robert Watson, who will make his FWOpera debut in the notoriously difficult role of her lover, Don Jose. Rounding out the cast is Craig Irvin (Silent Night) as the brash bullfighter Escamillo and former FWOpera Studio Artist , Kerriann Otano (Cosí fan tutte), as the young Micaela. FWOpera Music Director Joe lllick will conduct Bizet's memorable score with David Lefkowich (II Trovatore, La Boheme) returning to direct.

The action continues outside Bass Hall with the 2017 Opera Unbound production of Voir Dire. Written by composer Matthew Peterson and librettist Jason Zenka , Voir Dire was selected as a winner of the 2014 FWOpera Frontiers showcase, and returns to the Festival stage this season for its regional premiere. Adapted from various court cases witnessed by the librettist during his time as a crime reporter, the opera takes place in a courtroom and plays out in a series of colorful vignettes that give audiences an insider's look into the fascinating , hilarious and often insanely bizarre world of legal drama . The small ensemble cast features Nate Mattingly (Hamlet, Frontiers) and the Hattie Mae Lesley Apprentice Artists, Anna Laurenzo (Buried AliveEmbedded,Frontiers), Trevor Martin (The Barber of Seville, Frontiers), Christina Pecce, and Andrew Surrena. Co-produced with Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee, Voir Dire will be directed by FWOpera favorite David Gately (La TraviataThe Barber of Seville) and conducted by Viswa Subbaraman in his FWOpera debut.

The final week of the 2017 Festival will include Frontiers, the company's showcase for new works. Six to eight selected composers and librettists will be in residence at the Festival during the last week and their works will be presented in 20-minute performances sung by young artists of the 2017 Opera Festival and accompanied by piano on May 3- May 4, 2017. Each creative team will attend the showcase and participate in an enlightening post-performance discussion. Composers will receive feedback on their work through private meetings with the Frontiers jury panel. In addition, the workshops will be recorded, so the composers can subsequently study the recording to assist in the completion of their compositional process . Final performances will be offered in two separate showcases of four works each on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at 6:00 pm, and Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 6:00pm.

Submissions for the 2017 Frontiers program open on May 1, 2016 and close on July 31, 2016. For information on how to submit materials , please contact Nathan DePoint, Frontiers Curator, by emailing


The 2017 Fort Worth Opera Festival

April 15 -May 7, 2017


Grand Opening Night Concert 

April 15, 2017

Bass Performance Hall, downtown Fort Worth

Guest Artists:

Ava Pine (Soprano), Michael Mayes (Baritone)

Additional Fort Worth Favorites

Maestro Joe lllick



Music by Georges Bizet; libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy

April 22 , 30m, May 5, 2017 (m=matinee) Bass Performance Hall , downtown Fort Worth In French with supertitles in English and Spanish


Audrey Babcock (Carmen) Robert Watson* ( Don Jose) Craig Irvin (Escamillo) Kerriann Otano (Micaela)


Joe lllick, conductor David Lefkowich, director

Keith Brumley, lighting designer

Set courtesy of Lyric Opera Kansas City (MO)

* denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season


Voir Dire

Music by Matthew Peterson; libretto by Jason Zenka.

April 23, 25, 29m, 30, May 2, 6, 2017 ( m=matinee)

McDavid Studio, downtown Fort Worth

Sung in English without supertitles

Regional Premiere I Part of FWOpera's Opera Unbound Series 

CAST ( in various roles): Nate Mattingly

Anna Laurenzo

Trevor Martin Christina Pecce* Andrew Surrena *


Viswa Subbaraman* , conductor David Gately, director

* denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season

Photo: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán


Cruzar la Cara de la Luna

Music by Mariachi Vorgas de Tecolitlon; libretto by Leonard Foglio

Part of Noches de Opera:Phase 11 of Opera of the Americas 

April 29, May 7m 2017 (m=matinee)

Bass Performance Hall, downtown Fort Worth In Spanish and English with supertitles



Octavio Moreno* (Laurentino) Brian Shircliffe * (Mark)

David Guzman * (Rafael) Cecilia Duarte* (Renata) Brittany Wheeler * (Diana)



Jose "Pepe" Martinez, Mariachi Vargas Music Director Leonard Foglia, director

Set and costumes courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

* denotes Fort Worth Opera debut season



Two separate showcases of four wor ks each on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at 6:00 p.m., and Thursday, May 4, 2017, at 6:00 p.m.


Schedule of 2017 Festival Performances


Saturday, April 15, 7:30pm / Bass Hall / Grand Opening Night Concert 

Saturday, April 22, 7:30pm / Bass Hall / Carmen 

Sunday, April 23, 2pm / McDavid Studio / Voir Dire 

Tuesday, April 25, 7:30 p.m. / McDavid Studio / Voir Dire 

Saturday, Apr il 29, 2pm / McDavid Studio / Voir Dire 

Saturday, April 29, 7:30pm / Bass Hall / Cruzar la Cara de la Luna 

Sunday, Apr il 30, 2pm / Bass Hall / Carmen 

Sunday, April 30, 7:30pm / McDavid Studio / Voir Dire 

Tuesday , May 2, 7:30pm / McDavid Studio / Voir Dire 

Wednesday, May 3, 6pm / Kimbell Art Museum / Frontiers 

Thursday, May 4, 6pm / Kimbell Art Museum / Frontiers 

Friday, May 5, 7:30pm / Bass Hall / Carmen 

Saturday, May 6, 7:30pm / McDavid Studio / Voir Dire

Sunday, May 7, 2pm / Bass Hall / Cruzar la Cara de la Luna 


TICKETS: Subscription tickets for the 2017 Festival are available by phone only at 817-731-0726. Single tickets will go on sale August 1, 2016. Season subscriptions range from $26 to $379 while single tickets range from $17 to $195 (prices subject to change). Subscriptions are available now and single tickets go on sale August 1, 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or toll-free at 877-396-7372. Thanks For Reading

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2017 for Fort Worth Opera
The Fort Worth Opera's 2017 season advances its Opera of the Americas initiative with the North Texas premiere of a mariachi opera. Plus Carmen and Voir Dire.
by Mark Lowry

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