Omara y El Cigala

 

There are a few performers on my personal “bucket list,” and TWO of them performed TOGETHER last night in Mazatlán! Half the city turned out to listen, and not one seat remained empty in the entire Angela Peralta Theater. In fact, most members of the press were allowed only 40 minutes to photograph the event, after which they left as they had no where to sit. The show went on for a full two hours and the performers had the house on their feet, singing and dancing. It was one large karaoke and dance fest.

Diego Ramón Jiménez Salazar, known to the world as “El Cigala,” has that deep,  echoing, passionate flamenco voice that half the world, myself included, are so fond of. He’s perhaps best known for “Lágrimas Negras” with Bebo Valdés. El Cigala is Spanish Romani, “gypsy,” born in El Rastro in Madrid. It would seem Mazatlecas are fond of that bloodline, as there were quite a few proposals and propositions shouted his way during last night’s performance. It was a joy to witness the freedom with which younger and older women alike showered their compliments on Diego while sitting right next to their loving husbands. I heard more than one woman say to another, “he is a widower, you know.” Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Omara Portuondo Peláez, in contrast, is Cubana, known for her clear renditions of boleros, jazz and son cubano, singer for the Buena Vista Social Club. She started as a dancer with the Cabaret Tropicana in 1950. At 87 years old Omara is nearly forty years Diego’s senior, but she is full of mischief and sparkle and made sure we knew she could still touch her toes and the floor, and swing her hips to the rhythm.

The two sang two different sets alone, and two different sets of duets; it was so much fun! We were serenaded with “Te quiero, te quiero,” “Amar y vivir,” “Lo que me queda por vivir,” “Si te contara,” “Lágrimas negras,” “Compromiso,” “Obsesión,” “Vete de mí,” “Silencio,” “Noche cubana,” “La última noche,” and “Dos gardenias para ti.” After a lengthy request for an encore, the two came out for one final song, “Bésame mucho,” like you have never, ever heard it sung before.

They were accompanied by a pair of excellent pianists (Jaime Calabuch playing for Cigala, though I preferred Omara’s pianist) , a bassist, drummer and percussionist. Sorry, but no where could I find the names of the musicians. It was truly a night to remember, and no doubt the highlight of the Festival Cultural Mazatlán 2017!

The Opera Made Me Cry!

DSC_2241I love a good opera. Just as I love a good narrative ballet. And I’ve been blessed to have seen both in some of the world’s oldest and most revered opera houses: Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest, alla Scala in Milan, among many others. And while our Angela Peralta Theater is smaller, it’s every bit as gorgeous, though I may be biased.

Anyway, this season we are blessed with not just one, not just two, but FOUR fully acted operas! And woe is me, I am going to miss the last two. But I was in the audience for Puccini’s Suor Angelica last night, and oh my God did they do an excellent job! My friend and I both had tears streaming down our faces.

The singing was absolutely magnificent, and the acting outstanding. We are blessed with Maestro Enrique Patrón living here. The orchestra was amazing as well. Costumes and sets were very creatively done. Major kudos to everyone involved! Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The lead, Angelica—my namesake, Dhyana Arom, has a pure clear voice and terrific acting skills. She was perfectly counterbalanced by her evil aunt, the princess, sung by María Luisa Tamez—who sang and played the role marvelously. We loved hating her. How could she be so cruel, and then turn to the Virgin and make the sign of the cross! What hypocrisy, right?! She made it oh-so-fun to hate on her; stellar job!

Because Suor Angelica is a one-act opera, Maestro Patrón and company did twenty or thirty minutes of songs from other Puccini operas, including Madame Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, Tosca, Manon and Edgar. What a treat! There was an intermission after this gala and the full opera.

Thank you to all the performers, stage designers, costumers, organizers. I know I say it a lot, but we truly are blessed with our CULTURA Mazatlán folks! The theater was far from full, which baffles me to no end. Why in the world would people miss such an excellent performance? Life should not be too busy to enjoy it a bit. Says me who’s snowed under with work; I think my head exploded at least three times this week, lol.

Don’t forget that now, with your ticket from the event, you can get a 10% discount the night of the show at most restaurants in the Machado as well as a few others. So, don’t make the mistake of going straight home after the show.

Gay Pride Mazatlán 2017

DSC_0280Our 9th annual gay pride parade started at 5:30 pm Saturday afternoon, June 3rd, from in front of Valentino’s heading south down Avenida del Mar to the Glorieta Sanchez Taboada (cliff divers). It was better attended than ever. What a joy to see so many participants and the large number of spectators cheering them on and supporting authenticity! Witnessing our beautiful malecón lined with lesbian and gay lovers was rather nice, too. A society that embraces difference and has a place for everyone just as they are is a society where justice can reign and violence becomes unnecessary. Such is the hope for Mazatlán on a day of such sadness in London.

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LGBTQ Pride Mazatlán 2017

I absolutely loved the messages printed on front of each float, reminding us why celebrations such as this are so healthy not only for the LGBTQ community but society as a whole. Who can criticize the parade’s lead slogan, “With respect and love, less discrimination”? Key messages included:

  • Honesty: Know who you are and express what you feel.
  • Liberty: Sexual liberty without stigmas or discrimination.
  • Respect: We live together in diversity.

Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Riders on the float included performers at the various gay nightclubs in town as well as the winners of charity and other beauty contests. My girl Thalia Fedorova was there with her entourage of drag queens. A man in a thong wore a full Aztec feathered headdress and a glittery big-horned-sheep-type mask. I loved the angel hottie.

CULTURA supports the celebration and thus the parade included floats from Carnavál 2017. There were no live bands but lots of upbeat dance music, and one group of young dancers in a comparsa. Candy, condoms and pens were thrown, and gay pride flags were circulated. Confetti was shot through the air and floated along the avenue.

People of all ages attended and participated. Some wore t-shirts supporting the cause—there were various types. Most waved flags and pet dogs and pigs got in on the act; there was even a costumed roller blader. Eye candy for every sexual orientation was on full display. Frank (Juan Francisco Diaz) from The Voice Mexico was there, as was a vendor selling flags.

A young migrant who just arrived Saturday via La Bestia from Honduras made the mistake of telling me he was Christian and didn’t approve of this sort of thing. After quoting him a few of Jesus’ words, and explaining to him that, as a migrant/undocumented worker, if he wanted acceptance, respect and inclusion, how could he deny it to others, he changed his tune long enough for us to give him a few hundred pesos to help him on his journey.

I’ve been blessed to have been able to attend quite a few Pride parades in my day, but Mazatlán is definitely the prettiest location of any of them. Thank goodness this parade grows in size and joy every year, and that participants hold strong to constructive messages that benefit our whole community. Lead on, friends!

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CHANGE in Campbell Concert Tomorrow

If you have tickets for tomorrow, 19 February 2017’s Temporada Campbell concert (Schubert), please know that you will listen to different musicians. Sadly, one of the performers for the Schubert concert suffered a heart attack. The group that will instead perform is the wonderful Ventura Quartet. Please don’t miss out! The quartet is an award-winning group specializing in boleros, ballads, huapangos, rumba, ranchera, etc. Many thanks to the Maestro Gordon Campbell who called us to ask us to let you know! And thank you to all of you who helped us sort out CULTURA’s confusing messages!

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You’ll recall that Ventura Quartet has played here before and gave a stellar performance!

Behind the Chamber 2017: Four-Note Opera

 

The eighth and final concert in this year’s 2017 Temporada Campbell will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2017 at noon  in the Angela Peralta Theater.

I interviewed Maestro Gordon Campbell and Guianeya Román in a sneak peek of the concert. To hear their “Behind the Chamber” interview about the performance click on the video below. Please note the video was created before a date change in the program; the date shown in the video is incorrect.

You can purchase your tickets for specific concerts (300 pesos each) or a series pass (2000 pesos) at the Angela Peralta Theater box office—open 9am-3pm and 5-7pm—or online at CULTURA Mazatlán.

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Support the Camerata
Tax-deductible donations to recover costs of the Camerata and the community chorus are received by the Patronato Philomusica AC, Banco Bajio account number 14166839. Your donation is tax-deductible in Mexico and worldwide. Please help support the high caliber of arts in our community by pledging generously!

To watch other Behind-the-Chamber interviews click here.