Cruzar la Cara de la Luna
BY Jose "Pepe" Martinez and Leonard Foglia / Cruzar la Cara de la Luna por José "Pepe" Martínez y Leonard Foglia

“A stunning and emotional work.” "Impresionante e emocional." Houston Chronicle

Cruzar-miniAn electrifying season opens as Arizona Opera brings the world’s first mariachi opera to the stage. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna has become a smash sensation around the globe, blending the passion and artistry of mariachi with the emotionally touching story of a Mexican immigrant family.  Commissioned in celebration of the anniversaries of Mexican Independence and Revolution, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna features the legendary Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and promises to be an unforgettable night of raw energy, drama and virtuosity.

Una temporada electrizante abre cuando la Opera Arizona nos trae la primera ópera de mariachi del mundo al escenario. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna se ha convertido en una sensación de la rotura violenta de todo el mundo, combinando la pasión y el arte de mariachi con la conmovedora historia emocional de una familia de inmigrantes mexicanos. Encargado en la celebración de los aniversarios de la Independencia de México y la Revolución,Cruzar la Cara de la Luna Características del legendario Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan y promete ser una noche inolvidable de energía en bruto, drama y virtuosismo.

heritage festival english heritage festival spanish



“A pioneering work about the immigrant experience…heartfelt…shockingly melodic…the Paris audience both wept and shouted with joy at discovering something wonderful and fresh.”

 ”Un trabajo pionero sobre la experiencia de los inmigrantes … sincero … sorprendentemente melódica … el público de París, tanto lloró y gritó de alegría al descubrir algo maravilloso y fresco.”’


A Mariachi Opera
Music by José “Pepe” Martínez
Lyrics by José “Pepe” Martínez and Leonard Foglia
Book by Leonard Foglia
An HGOco Production of Houston Grand Opera
Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera
Premiered at Houston Grand Opera in September, 2010

The world premiere was supported in part by:
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Chevron (Presenting Sponsors)
American Express, Bank of America, Gruma,
and The Humphreys Foundation (Leadership Sponsors)
Premiere performances were a part of “Houston Celebrates Mexico 2010,”
supported in part by Bank of America
in association with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and the Consulate General of Mexico.

A Mariachi Opera

Música de José ”Pepe” Martínez
Letras de José ”Pepe” Martínez y Leonard Foglia

Libro por Leonard Foglia
Una Producción HGOco Houston Grand Opera
Por encargo de Houston Grand Opera
Se estrenó en Houston Grand Opera, en septiembre de 2010

El estreno mundial fue apoyado en parte por:
La Fundación Andrew W. Mellon y Chevron (Presentación de los Patrocinadores)
y la Fundación Humphreys (Patrocinadores de Liderazgo)
Estrenos eran una parte de Houston celebra México 2010”
apoyado en parte por el Bank of America
asociación con el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de México
y el Consulado General de México.

Photo courtesy of Edward Wilensky and San Diego Opera
Illustration courtesy of Emiliano Ponzi


Cruzar la Cara de la Luna

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?

To Cross the Face of the Moon / Cruzar la Cara de la Luna follows three generations of a single family, divided by countries and cultures. As a Mexican/American man deals with the approaching death of his father, he is forced to face these questions about his own place in the world – straddling two cultures – as well as that of his immigrant father and his American daughter. As long buried secrets are revealed, he finds himself dramatically re-evaluating his own understanding of what makes a family. Like the Monarch butterflies that migrate every year to the birthplace of his father, the members of the Velasquez family must travel both physically and spiritually between Michoacán and Texas and look deep into their hearts before they learn where they truly belong. —Leonard Foglia


¿Cómo clasificaría a su casa?
¿Es donde hemos nacido?
¿O en el que vivimos la mayor parte de nuestras vidas?
¿Es con la familia que dejamos atrás, o con los nuevos que creamos?

La historia de Cruzar la Cara de la Luna sigue a tres generaciones de una misma familia, dividida por países y culturas. En Cruzar la Cara de la Luna un  hombre mexicano-americano se preocupa por la muerte de su padre. Está obligado a enfrentarse a estas preguntas sobre su propio lugar en el mundo – un hombre viviendo entre dos culturas. Mexicano como su padre, un inmigrante de Mexico y Americano como su  hija que ha nacido en los Estados Unidos. Cuando secretos enterrados se empiezan a revelar, el hombre se encuentra revaluando su propia comprensión de lo que hace una familia. Al igual que las mariposas monarca que migran cada año a la ciudad natal de su padre, los miembros de la familia Velásquez deben viajar tanto física como espiritualmente entre Michoacán y Texas y mirar profundamente en sus corazones antes de aprender donde realmente pertenecen. -Leonard Foglia

Role Artist Date
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán Music Director José “Pepe” Martínez
Stage Director Leonard Foglia
Choreographer Keturah Stickann
Laurentino Octavio Moreno
Renata Cecilia Duarte
Mark Brian Shircliffe
Diana Brittany Wheeler
Rafael David Guzman
Lupita Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo
Chucho Saúl Ávalos
Victor Juan Mejia

Jose "Pepe" Martinez and Leonard Foglia / Cruzar la Cara de la Luna por José "Pepe" Martínez y Leonard Foglia

José Martínez was born on June 27, 1941, in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, Mexico and began expressing himself musically as a child, singing on the buses in Guadalajara at 10 years old.

Martínez joined his first mariachi band as a violin player at 12, and at the age of 13 played in an official Mexican military band for three years. Soon, he began experimenting with writing his own music. In 1966, Martínez formed his own mariachi ensemble called Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán. He went on a musical tangent, rearranging excerpts from operas, arias and movie themes. His writing style was also influenced by music written by composers and arrangers of the prestigious Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.

Nuevo Tecalitlán became one of the most dynamic sounding mariachi bands in Mexico throughout the mid-1960s and early 1970s and Martínez’s arrangements became his band’s signature. The group’s albums were dedicated to pioneering a different, full sound for mariachi bands and included popular instrumentals and classical excerpts like Beethoven’s 9th symphony “Himno a la Alegría” (“Ode to Joy”).  Martinez’s popurrís (medleys), however, were what caught the attention of his colleagues and peers in other mariachi ensembles.

In 1975, Jesus Rodríguez de Hijar, the sitting music director of Mariachi Vargas, retired and Martínez was invited for an audition. He was selected and joined Mariachi Vargas that same year. By the late 1970s, Mariachi Vargas was in high demand and José Martínez had written his first arrangements for a solo artist, a female rising star named Rocio Durcal.

Many mariachi music aficionados considered the genres’ “glory years” to be over by this time, but Martínez was still able to awe audiences with his interpretation of the Mexican spirit.

Mariachi Vargas once again raised the bar in mariachi music in 1986 with the release of the album Mexicanísimo, which contained three original songs written by a musically mature José Martínez.”Violín Huapango,” “Lluvia De Cuerdas” and “Mexicanísimo” became some of the most popular and most requested songs within the circuit of mariachi musicians throughout the world at the time.

In 2010, the Houston Grand Opera commissioned Cruzar la Cara de la Luna as part of an initiative to break down barriers in the arts. Martinez worked with Leonard Foglia, an American director, librettist, and novelist, to complete the project. Cruzar was well received, bridging the gap between mariachi and opera with the passionate musical storytelling critical to both.

Martínez is still writing, learning, and performing. He continues to play with Mariachi Vargas, now performing together with his son, “Pepe Jr.,” who joined the group in 1993.