‘Cruzar la Cara de la Luna’ is the world’s first Mariachi opera

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna is the story of an immigrant family divided by the U.S. / Mexican border.

All immigrant families face the same questions. “Where is home? Is it where we are born? Or where we live most of our lives? Is it with the family we leave behind or with the new ones we create?”

“Where is home? Is it where we are born? Or where we live most of our lives? Is it with the family we leave behind or with the new ones we create?”

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna tells the story of three generations of the Velásquez family, a family divided between Michoacán, Mexico and Texas.

The music and lyrics are by José “Pepe” Martínez with Leonard Foglia. The orchestra is Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, the oldest, continuously performing mariachi in the world. The Mariachi are very much part of the show. If you are Mexican or from the American Southwest, this is the music of home.

Monarch Butterflies ~ Mariposa Monarca

Every year the Monarch butterflies make a journey from Michoacán all the way to Canada and back. We used to make a similar journey to work in the States and spend the Christmas holidays at home with family. Nowadays, it is too dangerous and more of us leave the United States than enter anyway.

The Face of the Moon ~ La Cara de la Luna

The face of the moon is the Chihuahuan Desert. It is the second biggest desert in North America.

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna ~ To Cross the Face of the Moon

In Texas, Mark and his daughter Diana are tending to abuelo (grandpa) on his deathbed. Speaking in fever dreams, Mexican immigrant Laurentino Velasquez calls out to his first wife Renata and mistakes Diana for her.

Laurentino speaks of his son Rafael in Mexico which is news to Mark and Diana. Mark has a brother he has never met and for us Latins, nothing is more important than family.

We meet the young Laurentino and Renata and see them make the hard decision that Laurentino and his friend Chucho will go to the States to work and build a better future for their families.

Left alone in Mexico, Renata and Chucho’s wife Lupita struggle. Lupita is satisfied with the money her husband sends, but Renata wants to reunite her family. Renata pays the coyote Victor (border smuggler) to take her and Rafael to the U.S. She is pregnant and can’t make it across the face of the moon. She dies in the Chihuahuan Desert and Victor returns the boy Rafael to his village in Mexico.

Granddaughter Diana reaches out to her uncle Rafael who visits the family in Houston. Abuelo Laurentino, now at peace, dreams of the Monarch Butterflies and expresses his dying wish to be buried where his journey began. The reunited family takes abuelo home.

Mexican – American or Americano – Mexicano?

Identity is a special quandary for Americans with a Mexican heritage because as Native Americans and Hispanics, we were here first. It’s confusing because the land and even the culture bears witness to our long history.

We helped build this country, but the new leaders call us names, make simple things hard for us, and keep telling us to go back where we came from, but we came from here!!!

About one-third of the United States was once Mexico and before that Spain. We have an old saying, “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.”

Our fellow Americans consider us foreign, and our fellow Mexicans consider us American. So we are caught in this netherworld between cultures.

Every person makes their own choice. Some of us are more Mexican. Some of us are more American. Some of us, especially the young generation, moves back and forth with ease.

One thing is certain, the United States would be a strange and foreign place without us.

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna

The Houston Grand Opera commissioned the work to celebrate the bicentennial of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810 and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

The Mariachi opera gets its New York Premiere with the New York City Opera in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, Thursday – Sunday, January 25 – 28, 2018. $10 – $150

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna Tickets

Box Office

Jazz at Lincoln Center
Broadway at 60th St


CenterCharge (212) 721-6500



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