Scene from last year's opera festival in Tijuana. Scene from last year's event. zeta tijuana

Tijuana opera festival features 370 artists

Border city's opera in the street is celebrating its 14th year

The 14th annual Opera en la Calle festival is on today in Tijuana, Baja California, with music by 370 artists starting at noon and running until around 10 tonight.

Highlights of this year’s event — “opera in the street” in English — include scenes from Aida, segments of Verdi’s Il Trovatore and the second act of Puccini’s La Bohemé, which will close the program.

Three choruses and the Tijuana Youth Symphony will support soloists in the event’s main feature.

Children and the young at heart are the focus of Bastien und Bastienne, a comic opera written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was just 12 years old.

Presentations from dance groups, a juggling act and live performances of other musical styles ranging from swing to chamber music will add further color to the event, while music workshops and other activities for children make the festival a family event.

The vast majority of performers this year are drawn from local talent and in contrast to previous years, just two foreigners will perform.

The festival will again be centered on the streets of the neighborhood of Libertad with the main stage in Calle Quinta just blocks from the San Ysidro border crossing.

However, for the first time a condensed version of the program will also be held in other districts of the city including El Niño, El Refugio and the coastal zone, Playas de Tijuana, in the coming weeks.

Later this month an intensive music course by a California-based chamber music group and supported by the U.S. consulate in Tijuana  is also planned for young people who live in outlying districts of the city.

Festival organizers have managed to put the event together despite having their budget slashed by more than half from 3.5 million pesos to 1.5 million.

No funds were allocated by the federal government so organizers had to rely heavily on 750,000 pesos from city government coffers and 150,000 pesos from the state government, as well as support from sponsors.

Executive director of the Tijuana Opera, Maria Teresa Riqué, explained that the quality of the program would not be diminished.

“We’re very excited because this time, despite the difficulties, we’ve been able to put together a very beautiful and very interesting program with local talent.”

She also praised the passion and willingness of artists to bring their talents to the streets of the border city.

“This year we managed to invite groups that are very supportive, that get paid very little but agree to participate because they feel part of the festival and they like the project . . . the artists get really excited about participating and that enthusiasm and commitment to the project enables us to achieve what we are doing.”

It promises to be a memorable day of culture in the streets of a city that is not always associated with positive events of this type.

Source: Zeta Tijuana (sp), The San Diego Union-Tribune (en)

Reader forum