Restaurateur Antonio Meneses has always strived to create interest and excitement at his establishments in unique ways. In years past and together with his brother, chef Felipe Meneses, and wife chef Noria Zendejas, they created “Clandestine” dinners for patrons to dine in luxurious secret locations around Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.
In early 2020 and pre-Covid, Meneses hosted internationally acclaimed guitarist Josue Tacorante Ortero and his wife vocalist Paulina Alverez at an outdoor concert. Their restaurants also feature numerous artists and groups from the exceptional talent pool that the region is well known for.
This year, and mindful of restrictions in Guerrero, Meneses decided to bring opera to his newest restaurant, Tanta Vida, located on the beautiful beach of Playa Palmar in Ixtapa.
The star-studded evening highlighted the internationally acclaimed tenor, Juan del Bosco, with performances by the incredible operatic voices of Karla Fonesca Villanueva, Montserrat Muzquiz, Juan Marcos Martinez Mijares and accompanied by pianist Andre Sierra, all from Mexico.
Juan Del Bosco is a Mexican tenor who graduated from the Manhattan School of Music at just 14 years of age and made his debut at Carnegie Hall, Apollo, and Paramount Theatre in 2016. He has performed in such prestigious halls as Palacio de Belles Artes, and the Lincoln Center.
Karla Aurora Fonseca Villanueva, originally from Acapulco, is in her second year of a singing degree and her accomplishments include many solo performances around the state as part of a social project called Orquesta Coro Infantil y Juvenil.
Montserrat Muzquiz from Morelia, Michoacán, began her training at 17 years of age in the choir of the orchestra Esperanza Azteca Michoacán. She began her studies for her bachelor’s degree in music at the Conservatory of Roses in Michoacán, where she has performed numerous occasions as a soloist in ensembles and choirs.
Juan Marcos Martinez Mijares began his music studies at 19. Also from Morelia, Michoacán, Mijares is no stranger to the international stage, having performed in operas such as Carmen, playing Figaro in the opera Wedding of Figaro and Don Giovanni in the opera of the same name, in countries such as Austria, Germany Bulgaria, and the U.S.
Pianist Andre Sierra of El Manta, Tamaulipas, began studying piano at age 7. He moved to Morelia years later to study piano with Alexander Pashkov and has participated in various artistic events around the country.
Strict protocols were in place at Monday’s event; masks were worn by everyone and hand sanitizer was available at the door.
The program included classical Christmas carols such as What Child is This, Adeste Fideles, Hark the Herald Angels Sing as well as fun pieces made popular by Frank Sinatra such as Let It Snow. Although equally enthralled by all performances, in particular I enjoyed my favourites O Holy Night by Adolphe Adam and the Franz Schubert version of Ave Maria. The finale was a combined effort of Silent Night in English, Spanish and the original by Franz Schubert in German.
For the first time this year, I felt the Christmas spirit envelop me beneath a canopy of stars as I listened to the beautiful voices soar above the faint sound of the surf. The experience of the magical evening only reiterated for me my decision to come to Mexico given that my home province Ontario, Canada, was in lockdown. And for a moment in time, I could almost forget we were in the middle of a pandemic.
“We wanted to bring a feeling of Christmas in a family setting,” Meneses said when I told him how much it meant to me being so far from home and family this season. “It was important for us to bring people together especially this year.”
I think everyone who attended would agree that they accomplished what they set out to do.
Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year. Stay safe.
The writer divides her time between Canada and Zihuatanejo.