By and large, operas are performed in Italian, German or French, and they’re usually accompanied by classical orchestras. But a new show at Fort Worth Opera goes against the grain: it’s in Spanish, and features mariachi accompaniment. Art&Seek visited a recent rehearsal at the Opera’s studio at La Gran Plaza de Fort Worth to learn more about the show and to better understand its intended audience.
“How do we draw a younger and more diverse audience?” That’s the question almost every opera company in the country has been asking themselves for years. The answer? Well, there isn’t one solution, but the Fort Worth Opera thinks it has a strategy that could work. It’s called “Noches de Opera” – it’s Spanish-language programming, and over the past two years, legendary ensembles like Mexico’s Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán have come to Fort Worth to stage one-of-a-kind productions like the upcoming mariachi opera.
Why Noches de Opera?
Paulina Magdaleno is the audience engagement and special events manager at Fort Worth Opera. It’s her job to dream up fun events and happenings during which the company can connect with audiences.
“Yeah! It’s my job to spread the word about what we do at Fort Worth Opera,” she says. “We partner with museums and we partner with bars, and at the bars we do these events called “Opera Shots.” That’s a pop-up-style concert event that’s very laid back and our singers perform. The last one we had, I was able to get one of the singers to climb up on the bar and to belt out a song.”
Magdaleno says she loves her work, and that she wouldn’t do what she does for Fort Worth Opera if she didn’t think it was sincere about its mission to draw Hispanic and Latino audiences into Bass Performance Hall to see opera.
“This year, we’re presenting our second mariachi opera, ‘El Pasado Nunca se Termina‘ (‘The Past is Never Finished’),” she says. “And our Spanish-language programming actually started as an initiative 2017. It was Fort Worth Opera’s effort to reflect the diversity of our community. But now it’s a program, so it will stay here forever, and I’m super excited about that!”