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.

Behind the Chamber: Opera La Serva Padrona

Do you love good opera as much as I do? Premiering for the Empress of Hapsburg’s birthday in 1733, the opera buffa (comedic opera) “La Serva Padrona” (“The Servant Turned Mistress”) by Pergolesi will be the fourth offering in this year’s Camerata Gordon Campbell.

Originally written as an intermezzo, the theme of “La Serva Padrona” is timeless and something most anyone can relate to. A young woman, working as a maid for a wealthy elderly bachelor, has designs on marrying him and inheriting his estate. She works in cahoots with Vespone, a mute fellow servant, to make her goal a reality.

Greg and I recently interviewed the Director of the Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes, Maestro Gordon Campbell, and his wife, Guianeya Román, in our home. Below is their Behind-the-Chamber peek into La Serva Padrona:

The concert will take place at the Angela Peralta Theater this Sunday, February 1st, at noon. Karla Muñoz, soprano, will sing the role of Serpina, the maid. Carlos Serrano, baritone, will sing as Uberto, the master of the house. Actor Larik Huerta will play the mute servant, Vespone. The stage director for this performance is Rodolfo Arriaga.

Tickets for La Serva Padrona are only 200 pesos each, and can be purchased at the TAP box office or online.

Behind the Chamber: Mozart and His Women

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Angelica Aragón

Sounds sexy, right? Intriguing? This performance, the second in the Camerata Gordon Campbell series this year, sounds absolutely fabulous to me. It will take place on Sunday, January 11, at noon in the Angela Peralta Theater.

We all love art—listening to music or looking at paintings. What is even better to me, however, is when curators use music or visual art to tell us a story, to give us a glimpse into the lives of the artists—to take us with them into their lives. I love an exhibition that showcases the work of two friends who were painters, for example, comparing and contrasting their viewpoints, experiences, personalities and techniques. It’s so much more enriching than simply looking at the paintings and enjoying them. Such an approach accesses more of our senses simultaneously.

“Mozart and His Women” takes such an approach. It is musical tour de force, performed by the Chamber Orchestra, and it will be accompanied by readings from private letters between Mozart and his family and friends. So, we will hear the concerto that Mozart composed for his brother, Frederick, on the latter’s birthday, while we listen to the letter that Wolfgang wrote to him on that very occasion. Sound awesome?

The video below shows Gordon Campbell, Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes and of the Camerata Gordon Campbell, and Guianeya Román, his collaborator and wife, as they talk about the genesis of this performance. Be sure to listen for what Mozart called one of his best friends—he may have been Mazatleco after all!

Joining the Chamber for this concert will be the wonderful Angelica Aragón. I know her as an actress in movies and telenovelas, the daughter of my beloved Ferrusquilla. So my first question to Gordon and his wife was, “Does she sing?” No, in “Mozart and His Women,” Angelica will be performing the roles of Mozart’s mother, sister and wife, as she reads from the letters. We may even see a cameo by Gordon himself, in a white powdered wig.

Be sure to get your season tickets for only 150 pesos each, or your ticket to this event only at the unbelievable price of 200 pesos. Tickets at the TAP box office or online (though, personally, I can never get the online payment to work). We are so very truly blessed here in Mazatlán!

I am doing this series on the Camerata, not because we want to start reporting here on this blog, but because we so often find out about events after the fact. Sure, we see the announcements ahead of time, but often we don’t really know what the various performances are about. And we are blessed with a plethora of terrific options here in Mazatlán! It is my hope that this “Behind the Chamber” series can help you to discern what the performances will involve—they are so exciting this year! Many thanks to the Maestro and his wife for spending time with us to give us some background details and build our excitement.

Behind the Chamber: Skipping From Carnegie Hall to Mazatlán

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Daniela Liebman

 

A twelve year old girl from Guadalajara plays piano so well that she has already performed in Europe and Asia, as well as in both the Palacio de las Bellas Artes and Carnegie Hall—where she received a standing ovation. Earlier this year she won the prestigious Premio Nacional de la Juventud award, given to outstanding young Mexicans between 12 and 28—when she had barely reached the minimum age.

The girl is Daniela Liebman, an incredibly hardworking and naturally talented musician, and she will be coming our way this Sunday, January 4, 2015. Her career is rising quickly, she’s in very high demand on the international stage, and this is most probably the last concert she will play for over a year. Daniela may well go on to world fame, and thanks to the annual Camerata Gordon Campbell series, we get to create lifelong memories right here, in our own Angela Peralta Theater, for only 200 pesos (less if you buy tickets to the full series).

Maestro Gordon Campbell, Director and Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes, and his wife and collaborator, Guianeya Román, sat down with us to talk a bit about next Sunday’s concert, how they came to know Daniela, and how they were able to attract her to Mazatlán to perform for us.

Born to musically inclined parents—a US American father and a Mexican mother—the maestro and his wife tell us that Daniela is both an terrific artist and a very well-adjusted child: she loves reading, and often skips onto stage due to her excitement at performing. View the video of our interview, below:

We were told that the family is very dedicated to Daniela. Her father sat with her four hours a day when she was younger, helping her practice. Daniela’s parents have told Gordon that if at any time the gifted pianist does not wish to continue her musical training, she is free to choose whichever interests suit her. Soon the family will be moving to Fort Worth, Texas to continue her training with a well-known teacher there.

Be sure to get your season tickets for just 150 pesos each for the 8-concert series, while you can still choose the best seats. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Angela Peralta Theater box office.