Arts & Culture

Fort Worth Opera to focus on Latino works in upcoming seasons

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna will be performed in Fort Worth in 2017.
Cruzar la Cara de la Luna will be performed in Fort Worth in 2017. Arizona Opera

Fort Worth opera patrons can expect to hear Spanish sung on stage for the next several seasons.

As the Fort Worth Opera opens its 2016 Festival with JFK on Saturday, the company has announced the lineup for its 2017 festival, set for April 15 to May 17, 2017, and a major initiative to focus on works by Latino composers.

FWO will move into what it’s calling the second phase of its Opera of the Americas series, “Noches de Ópera,” with a commitment to Spanish-language operas that will extend to 2020. Next year’s festival will feature the area premiere of the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (“To Cross the Face of the Moon”), with music by renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and libretto by Leonard Foglia. The work, which blends mariachi and opera music, tells the story of a family divided by borders, FWO says. It was written for The Houston Grand Opera and will have two performances at Bass Hall.

Cruzar the first performance in what General Director Darren K. Woods said will be at least four consecutive years of operas with Latino or Latina creators and performers — an initiative whose goal is to reflect the diverse demographics of North Texas, he said. Noches de Ópera also was created in response to positive reactions FWO has received to Latino works it has programmed in recent years, including the 2010 world premiere of Jorge Martin’s Before Night Falls, 2014’s With Blood, With Ink and collaborations with Fort Worth’s Rose Marine Theatre.

“If you’re not reflecting your community, you’re not going to survive,” Woods said.

The initiative goes beyond simply adding a Latino work to each season. The Fort Worth Opera started a Latino Leadership Committee a year-and-a-half ago. Noches de Ópera also will include year-round community programming in partnership with the Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas and the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, FWO says.

“The overwhelming goal is to expand the outreach the opera has into the Latino community,” said FWO Latino Leadership Committee chair Mike Martinez. “It’s a change of focus, for the opera not just being an outlet for entertainment, but educating and raising awareness.”

The 2017 festival lineup will also feature the area premiere of the dark Voir Dire, about the courtroom drama that plays out following a horrific crime, with music by Matthew Peterson and libretto by Jason Zenka. The work was the winner of FWO’s 2014 Frontiers new works showcase, and will be the second opera that FWO has taken from Frontiers to the main stage (the first is Embedded, part of the 2016 festival).

The festival will also program Georges Bizet’s tour de force Carmen, starring mezzo-sprano Audrey Babcock (With Blood, With Ink) in the title role.

The festival will open with a Bass Hall concert that includes singers Ava Pine and Michael Mayes, along with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. The Frontiers showcase will return for a fifth season.

Subscriptions are $26-$379 and go on sale Saturday, by phone only, at 817-731-0726. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 1. For more information, visit

2017 Fort Worth Opera Festival

  • Grand Opening Night Concert: April 15, Bass Hall
  • Carmen: April 20, 30 and May 5, Bass Hall
  • Voir Dire: April 23, 25, 29, 30 and May 2, 6, McDavid Studio
  • Cruzar la Cara de la Luna: April 29 and May 7, Bass Hall
  • Frontiers: May 3-4, Kimbell Art Museum
Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram