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Cruzar: Is it an Opera?

Nick Cohen – October 13, 2014

NO! says Iris Arnesen:

Iris Arnesen is the author of Nine Famous Opera: What’s really Going On! and The Romantic World of Puccini: A New Critical Appraisal of the Operas.  She is a lecturer on opera and editor of The Opera Glass, a performing arts periodical that covers opera, theatre, dance, and concert music.

It is wrong to characterize Cruzar as an opera. While I sympathize with the need of opera companies to appeal to a wider portion of the public, frankness is essential.  Cruzar  is a pleasant enough piece of musical theatre, but it has little in common with the masterful music and Olympic-class singing that have defined opera since the art form was created.

Think of the intricate scores, stunning vocals, and gripping action in the works of Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, and Strauss, where all elements combine to achieve brilliant expressions of tremendous emotional power and beauty. Certainly those composers were giants, but can anyone really argue that “Cruzar”, with its popular-class music, deserves to be ranked with the works even of the second or third tiers?

If producing an occasional piece outside the field of opera will help to gain a company favorable publicity and introduce new people to the idea of attending opera, I see no real harm in that. But to assure these new visitors that what they are seeing actually is opera would be a serious mistake. Just imagine their reaction if their next, innocent foray to the theatre was to hear a production of “Tristan”!

Again, I understand the reasoning behind presenting “Cruzar”. I don’t dislike the piece, but it is not opera. 

YES! Says Maria Nockin:

Maria Nockin is an opera critic whose works have appeared in Classical Singer Magazine, Opera Today, Music and Vision Daily and elsewhere.  Further articles and reviews can be found, in English at www, or in Spanish at

Opera, meaning vocal music that is acted out on a stage, has been found in almost every one of the world’s cultural groups. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the indigenous people of Mexico made music with rattles, drums, flutes, and conch-shell horns.  The Spanish introduced violins, guitars, harps, brass instruments, and woodwinds, which replaced some of the original instruments.  Manuel de Zumaya (c. 1678 – 1755) was the first Mexican born composer to write an opera.  His La Parténope was performed in 1711 at the Viceroy's Palace in Mexico City.  Its libretto still exists but, unfortunately, the music has been lost.

The title Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon) refers to the yearly migration of monarch butterflies between the United States and Mexico. Sometimes their silhouettes are seen against the moon. Members of families, too, migrate between the two countries and sometimes spend a great deal of time away each other.

Is Cruzar la Cara de la Luna an opera? It is a work of art that involves singing, acting, instrumental music, supertitles to translate its language and all the other aspects we normally think of operatic, so each reader can make up his or her mind. For me it is as much an opera of our time and place as The Flying Dutchman was for Richard Wagner’s era.