Lyric Opera of Chicago

Mariachi returns to Lyric with Canciones y arias concerts this April!

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Mariachi Aztlán

Suzette Mayobre, Sonja Krenek, Carlos A. Feliciano, and Matthew Ozawa

A scene from Cruzar la Cara de la Luna in Pilsen with Mariachi Aztlán.

Mariachi Aztlán with audience members after a performance in Waukegan.  

Lyric Opera is proud to present Canciones y arias: a cantar con toda el alma (Songs and arias: to sing with all your soul) on April 11 and 12 at 7:30 pm at the Performing Arts Center at Benito Juárez Community Academy in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood – a musical journey exploring the roots of mariachi and the tradition of opera.

Building on the sold-out success of Lyric Unlimited's presentations of the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna in Chicago, Pilsen and Waukegan last season, Canciones y arias focuses on musical storytelling in both Mexican and European traditions, and the discovery of how our common human experiences bring us together.

Featuring the award-winning Mariachi Aztlán from the University of Texas Pan-American, along with host Suzette Mayobre and classical singers Sonja Krenek (soprano) and Carlos A. Feliciano (tenor), Canciones y arias is an hour-long performance directed by Matthew Ozawa. The program showcases the drama and intensity of storytelling through song – both traditional mariachi songs and classical arias – using examples of popular Mexican musicians like singer Jorge Negrete and composer Manuel M. Ponce, as well as operatic excerpts from Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, and more. The program traces the ties between the traditional art form of opera and the modern sounds of mariachi music, exploring the roots of mariachi –  from indigenous folk music, African and European influences to the Western classical musical tradition of opera.

“We had such a wonderful response last season to presentations of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna that resulted in meaningful ties to communities in Pilsen and Waukegan that we are excited to be able to return with a new offering this spring,” shared Lyric Unlimited Director Cayenne Harris. “We hope that this program will also serve to whet our audience’s appetite for our next mariachi opera, which we have commissioned for spring 2015 – El Pasado Nunca Se Termina (The Past Is Never Finished) from the same acclaimed team that created Cruzar, composer Jose “Pepe” Martínez and librettist/director Leonard Foglia.”

Lyric Unlimited is planning special activities and performances for school groups and youth mariachis in Pilsen and Waukegan surrounding this April’s performances. Mariachi Aztlán will visit schools in both areas to work with students on developing their musicianship skills and learning more about the history of mariachi and the relevance of classical vocal and instrumental training.

Tickets for this event are just $5. Call 312-827-5600 or visit to purchase in advance. Tickets are also available at the door one hour prior to each performance (cash only). This program is offered in partnership with the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Chicago Mariachi Project.

Before and after the concert, attendees can view an exhibit by youth artists from Yollocalli Arts Reach in the lobby. Additional post-concert activities include a short performance by the student mariachi ensemble of the Chicago Mariachi Project.


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Canciones y arias is generously sponsored by The Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc., Quaker Foods North America, Maria Bechily, and Mr. and Mrs. Alejandro Silva. Lyric Unlimited is supported in part by a generous grant from the Hurvis Family Foundation.

Photos by Todd Rosenberg.