José “Pepe” Martínez Music
José “Pepe” Martínez & Leonard Foglia Lyrics
Leonard Foglia Book

Fort Worth Opera introduces the second phase of the landmark 10-year initiative Opera of the Americas with Noches de Ópera (Nights of Opera). This groundbreaking campaign will present powerful operas, each reflecting the diverse cultures of new American audiences. Beginning next season with the critically lauded mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon) and extending through the 2020 Festival, FWOpera commits to the exploration of vibrant, contemporary Spanish language operas by Latino and Latina composers from across the Americas.

Featuring music by José “Pepe” Martínez of the world-famous Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna has been praised by critics in Houston, Chicago, Phoenix, and Paris as a “stunning and emotional work” (Houston Chronicle). A one-of-a-kind operatic experience, the opera blends the folk traditions of mariachi music with opera, to tell a gripping story of a family divided by borders and their struggle to exist between two cultures.

The work will introduce FWOpera audiences to a cast of fresh faces, all making their Festival debuts. Leading the cast is Octavio Moreno as Laurentino – a dying grandfather whose memories carry the audience between his past and present. Joining him is Brian Shircliffe as his American son Mark and Daniel Montenegro as his Mexican son Rafael. Mark’s daughter Diana is sung by Brittany Wheeler and Cecilia Duarte plays Laurentino’s wife, Renata. Vanessa Cerda-Alonzo and Saúl Ávalos  are Laurentino and Renata’s best friends Lupita and Chucho, and Juan Mejía is the brave coyote who guides Renata and young Rafael through the desert. Leonard Foglia will make his FWOpera Festival directorial debut.


Cruzar la Cara de la Luna’s narrative fluctuates between modern-day Texas and Mexico in the 1960s, as it follows the life of Laurentino Velásquez, an elderly Mexican laborer who lies dying in the bed of his Fort Worth home, surrounded by his loved ones. As he reflects upon the past 75 years, secrets that were concealed for decades are unearthed and memories threaten to disrupt the stability of his American family. Fifty years ago, he came to the U.S. as a worker in the Bracero Program, leaving behind his wife Renata, and two of their closest friends, Lupita and Chucho. He never returned.

In an attempt to reconcile his past and bring his American and Mexican families together before he passes on, Laurentino tells his son Mark of his birthplace, Michoacán, and the loss of his beloved wife. Pregnant and longing to be reunited with her husband, Renata hired a guide to take her across the border, along with her young son Rafael. The arduous desert journey proved to be too much for her to bear, and she died before reaching her destination. Her brave coyote, Victor, took the child back to the village, where he grew up estranged from the father who seemingly abandoned him.

Mark’s daughter Diana decides to contact her father’s half-brother in Mexico, to heal fifty year old wounds, and fulfill the final wishes of his father. The opera concludes as Laurentino peacefully dies knowing that his family is finally together. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna speaks of love, loss, and home, as it explores the theme of displacement and the definition of “family” within the Mexican-American community and beyond. Throughout the opera, the annual migration of the Monarch butterfly is elegantly entwined within the libretto and its poetic title as a metaphor, to signify the physical and spiritual journey the Velásquez family must travel to discover where they truly belong.


  • Octavio MorenoLaurentino

  • Brian ShircliffeMark

  • Daniel MontenegroRafael

  • Cecilia DuarteRenata

  • Vanessa Cerda-AlonzoLUPITA

  • Brittany WheelerDiana

  • Saúl ÁvalosChucho

  • Juan MejíaVictor

  • Leonard FogliaDirector

An HGOco Production of Houston Grand Opera
Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera
Premiered at Houston Grand Opera in September, 2010

The world premiere was supported in part by:
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Chevron (Presenting Sponsors)
American Express, Bank of America, Gruma,
and The Humphreys Foundation (Leadership Sponsors)

Premiere performances were a part of “Houston Celebrates Mexico 2010”
Supported in part by Bank of America
in association with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and the Consulate General of Mexico.