Review: Chacón-Cruz’s hybrid mariachi-opera concert draws a party crowd to Escondido
Although tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz’s concert on Friday at Escondido was billed as a San Diego opera recital, it was clear from the first minute that it wouldn’t be a starchy formal affair.
The cheerful, charismatic and immensely talented opera star didn’t start the show with an uplifting tune, but a chorus performance of the upbeat Neapolitan song “Funiculi, Funicula”. The 812-member audience happily and loudly paid tribute to her vocal accompaniment, which set a fiery tone for the evening. Throughout the 2.5-hour concert, Chacón-Cruz rarely left the stage to rest, shared his personal thoughts on each song, and thanked his accompanist and longtime friend Jeremy Frank with hugs rather than handles. tomorrow.
Born in Sonora, Mexico, and now based in Miami, Chacón-Cruz is a specialist in Verdi and Puccini’s repertoire, but on Friday he presented a diverse program reflecting both his musical roots and his current and future career as world opera. star artist and concert performer. In the first half of the show, the tuxedo singer performed popular Italian songs, opera arias and Spanish zarzeula numbers with the excellent pianist Frank. In the second half, he returned in a charro costume and performed nearly a dozen mariachi songs with the 10-member Mariachi Continental from México. Chacón-Cruz began his singing career as a teenage mariachi in the streets of Sonora, and he recorded three albums of Mexican music.
Now in its 56th year, San Diego Opera continues to reinvent itself. This fall, he invited three famous opera stars to create their own non-opera recital programs, two of which were presented outside his longtime home in downtown San Diego. The concert at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido was the company’s very first event of the season in North County and many spectators raised their hands when asked if they are buying tickets for the first time. for the San Diego Opera House.
Chacón-Cruz seemed at ease in all genres of music he sang. As an opera singer, he has a perfect tone, a warm sound, a seamless transition between his upper and lower vocal registers, and easy and seemingly unlimited access to his high C. As a mariachi, he has swagger, a sense of humor, the ability to hum, emotional delivery, and vocal sweetness. And even the mariachi players on stage seemed elated to hear traditional mariachi chants performed with the robustness that only an opera singer can muster.
The Neapolitan song “O sole mio”, performed with melismatic grace, and “No puede ser”, the moving Spanish romance that helped Chacón-Cruz win the Placido Domingo zarzuela award at the Operalia 2005 competition in Madrid, were among the concerts. the most striking. He also showed his promise for the future as Calaf – the famous tenor role in Puccini’s “Turandot” which he will debut in 2023 – with a moving rendition of “Nessun Dorma”. But the biggest crowd pleaser was a multicolored encore performance from “Granada”. The 1932 song was made famous by Domingo, but now Chacón-Cruz is making it his own.