SAN DIEGO OPERA PRESENTS ARTURO CHACÓN-CRUZ at the California Center For The Arts, Escondido


Arturo Chacon-Cruz

Variety seems to be the spice of classical music and opera in San Diego. The city’s symphony orchestra plans to perform in a dozen or more venues next year, and the opera company has used a different venue for each of its three recent recitals. The last of them featured Mexican-born tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz, and the opera tenor’s program choices continued the varietal spice. The first half started with five Italians canciones followed by four Spanish zarzuelas and concluded with two arias by Puccini. But many in the audience were waiting for the second half entirely in mariachis. Their award was 11 Mexican-Spanish favorites sung in front of the 10-piece Mariachi Continental de México conducted by musical director Silvano Chavez.

In his pre-concert comments, San Diego Opera General Manager David Bennett noted his opera company’s dedication to the “expressive power” of the human voice, something he had developed. in my recent interview with him. Few singers have received Chacón-Cruz’s praise for that one power alone, and that evening, the heartfelt intensity of feelings for each of the program’s selections proved the praise to be justified. Additional commonalities in the unusual mix of pieces were the quality and precision of his vocals and an extraordinary rapport with the audience. The latter was quickly reached when he invited a vocals for the Neapolitan opening song “Funiculi, Funicula”, and the recital’s success was almost assured. Sung with heart and power, “O sole mio” was the greatest audience delight among the first Italian songs.

Chacón-Cruz presented his series of zarzuelas explaining that he had won the Plácido Domingo Zarzuela award at Operalia 2005. And then he sang “No puede ser”, the romantic Spanish

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA PRESENTS ARTURO CHACÓN-CRUZ at California Center For The Arts, Escondido
Pianist Jeremy Frank

ballad which he interpreted to win the prize. While Italian songs work well with opera and pop singers, zarzuelas are written for opera voices and thus show the strength and endurance of the tenor. After singing three of them, he gave the stage to his longtime friend and talented accompanying pianist Jeremy Frank who concluded the first half with his solo arrangement of a catchy and rhythmic mix of zarzuela melodies.

Although Chacón-Cruz gained worldwide fame as an opera tenor, the recital consisted of only two arias, both by Puccini and familiar to any opera lover, “E lucevan le stelle” by Tosca and “Nessum dorma “by Turandot, probably the best. tenor tune known because of the successful version of Pavarotti. Chacón-Cruz will sing it in a 2023 production of Turandot when he made his debut as Calaf. Its warmth, power and effortless wide range ensure a successful appearance.

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA PRESENTS ARTURO CHACÓN-CRUZ at California Center For The Arts, EscondidoThe tenor hadn’t thought about opera when he was young. He started out and was discovered as a mariachi singer. Opera fans might have been disappointed after the intermission when he first appeared with a largely unnecessary microphone and in traditional Mexican cowboy mariachi costume, complete with a massive sombrero. But even the heaviest viewer was probably charmed by Chacón-Cruz’s obvious pleasure in revisiting the genre.

The skill and precision of Mariachi Continental de México with his five violins, two trumpets and three guitar-like instruments was a romantic delight. A few in the audience near me had

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA PRESENTS ARTURO CHACÓN-CRUZ at California Center For The Arts, Escondido
Co-winners of the Grito Competition

quietly sang Spanish zarzuela lyrics with Chacón-Cruz, but it seemed like a quarter of the audience knew most of the mariachi lyrics. Even gringos like me could join the choirs of “Cucurucucú” by Tomás Méndez and “Cielito lindo” by Quirino Mendoza y Cortés. The spirit of the second half of the concert was perhaps best captured when the tenor asked three members of the group to come forward to compete for the best. grito, the excited mariachi cry is roughly equivalent to a western cowboy’s YEE HAH !!! Enthusiastic laughter and applause was used to determine the winner.

As a reminder, Chacón-Cruz chose “Granada” by Agustín Lara, a favorite of mentor and friend Placido Domingo. Spanish and English speaking audience members stood up to applaud as the entertaining concert drew to a close.

BWW Review: SAN DIEGO OPERA PRESENTS ARTURO CHACÓN-CRUZ at California Center For The Arts, Escondido
Tenor Chacón-Cruz sings with Mariachi Continental de México

For future times and ticket information, visit the San Diego Opera House website.

Photo credits Karli Cadel

About Madeline J. Carter

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