Madame Butterfly Today for Students

DSC_60341500 primary and middle school children were treated to two operatic performances of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly today in the Angela Peralta Theater accompanied by our beloved Camerata Mazatlán. What a dream come true, right? Or a nightmare, depending on what kind of child you are. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

I have long been a fan of the free performances, “Cultura in the Community,” and today’s event was no exception. It was a win for the children and for the performers, as the cast who were given the terrific opportunity to play these major roles are all from our Municipal School of the Arts:

  • María de Jesús Herrada sang the title role of Cho-cho, the spurned Japanese girl
  • Alejandro Yepes and Alejandro Pacheco took turns as Pinkerton, the spineless American who marries her for convenience
  • Rodolfo Ituarte and Mario Canela performed as Sharpless, the US American consul who is tasked with delivering the bad news that Pinkerton has married another
  • Daniela Cortés and Mariela Angulo rotated as the maid, Suzuki
  • Bonze, the Buddhist monk who curses Cho-cho, was wonderfully performed by José Lora and Miguel Valenzuela
  • Goro, the marriage broker, was, in true kabuki fashion, performed by Eduardo Tapia

The choice of opera for the crowd of students seemed appropriate, as it can be seen as a cautionary tale against teenage pregnancy. The students’ were audibly shocked when María de Jesús announced she was fifteen years old, and then again when she appeared with her child conceived with Pinkerton. The kids absolutely loved Bonze, Cho-cho’s evil uncle, the Buddhist monk. The role was superbly acted. Of course, in the end Pinkerton and his new wife Kate adopt the child, and Madama Butterfly commits seppuku with her father’s sword.

Marsol Quiñonez Castro, General Director of Cultura Mazatlán, reported that it is the first time in the past five years that there has been a full house for an opera performed for children, and that she was very pleased with the audience’s response. Some of the kids looked spellbound, fortunately, and others slept or talked through the performance, causing Maestro Enrique Patrón de Rueda to “shush” the crowd several times.

Roberto Rodríguez Lizárraga, director of DIF Mazatlán, said he was grateful for the opportunity to host students from junior highs Eti #5, Federal #2, Federal #5, Santa Teresa y Solidaridad, and the Valladolid primary school.

There will be one more performances for students tomorrow morning, Wednesday the 20th, followed by a second at noon for the elderly and disabled.

Dúo de Amor

The Velada de las Artes last night, Saturday 19 February at 8 pm in the Angela Peralta Theater—entitled Dúo de Amor—was spectacular and left me with my mouth hanging open quite a few times.

The crowd was greeted in the lobby by the Guillermo Sarabia Chorus, waiters passing red wine, and a beautifully draped and chandeliered ceiling. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The chandeliers continued through to the theater and on the stage, making for a stunning effect. The first subject of the evening was to award the Mazatlán Literature Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given out during Carnaval. Prior recipients have included Ángeles Mastretta, Fernando del Paso, Octavio Paz, Francisco Hernández, my favorite, Elena Poniatowska and Carlos Fuentes.

2019’s awardee is Guillermo Fadanelli, who was recognized for his body of work—Lodo, Educar a los topos, Mis mujeres muertas, El hombre nacido en Danzig, and Hotel DF are a few of his best-known novels, and he also writes essays. Fadanelli’s works have been translated into six languages. José Ignacio Lizárraga, Ernesto Velázquez Briseño and Alejandro Páez Varela comprised this year’s panel of judges.

Fadanelli received the award from Óscar Blancarte Pimentel, Director of our Instituto de Cultura, Turismo y Arte de Mazatlán, as well as from our two 2019 queens, Karla II and Yamilé I.

For such a prestigious event in such a gorgeously historic venue, Fadanelli could have at least tucked in his shirt, or even pressed it. But Ithe crowd did enjoy his bright red shoes and Ivery much appreciated his remarks. “Culture is life, it’s an extensión of our thoughts, it’s the desire to be someone… language amplifies our imagination… words, language and writing help us better the world,” he remarked in accepting the prize.


After the award presentation we had a short break, so the sofas and podium on stage could be changed out to make room for the Camerata Mazatlán and part of the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes. The musicians did an incredible job. It was a night of love and passion, with arias from Die Fiedermaus, Turandot, l’amico FritzAndrea Chénier, A Masked BallAida, Nabucco, and Madame Butterfly.


The highlight of the evening were the two international opera star headliners: soprano Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, and tenor Dario Di Vietri. Kudos to the stage light professionals, as they did an excellent job. There were no costuming, props or backgrounds, but via the music, the incredible voices,  acting and lighting, the audience was transported to each opera and filled with the passion intended in each aria. The audience demanded, and got, two encores.

We all know how blessed we are to live in Mazatlán, where we can enjoy world-class cultural events in intimate spaces at affordable prices. Last night, however, was over the top. Where in the world can you enjoy a renowned symphony conductor encouraging the audience to sing along with the stars on stage? Or witness the two stars vamping an incredibly campy, passionate kiss, only to break out into heartfelt laughter that delights the soul? Or witness the conductor scold a queen for over-use of her cell phone, or joke about a percussionist’s mishap on stage? The only reminder of our small-town-ness were the frayed carpets and the dirty podium on stage. In the presence of such incredible artists, surely we can do better than that.


The theater was nearly full. Carnaval royalty from this year and last year atended, as did Papik Ramírez Bernal, Director General of the Instituto Sinaloense de Cultura, and Victoria Aída Tatto Prieto, State Director of Cultura.

Carnaval has officially begun, people. We have our royalty, we have our award winners. Now get ready to party!