Music and lyrics for Cruzar la Cara de la Luna/To Cross the Face of the Moon (2013 revival, tours to Théâtre du Châtelet, San Diego Opera, and Arizona Opera, and 2010 world premiere, for which he also performed the role of Chucho.)
About the Artist:
The late José “Pepe” Martínez (1941–2016) was born in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, Mexico, and joined his first mariachi band as a violinist at the age of 12. He began writing music when he was 19 years old, and in 1966 formed his own mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán. In 1975, he joined Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, and his work with that ensemble established him as a composer and arranger, marking a new era for Mariachi Vargas and creating a sonic style that has become synonymous with el mejor mariachi del mundo—the best mariachi in the world. “Somos Novios” and “El Cascabel” are two of the first songs Martínez arranged for his new group; original works such as “Violín Huapango,” “Lluvia de cuerdas,” “Mexicanísimo,” and “Viva Veracruz” with its rapid violin ricochets—a Martínez signature—followed. He was the music director of Mariachi Vargas from 1975 until he stepped down after the 2013–14 season. Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, commissioned by Houston Grand Opera and premiered in 2010,was his first opera. With librettist Leonard Foglia, he later composed El Pasado Nunca Se Termina, which premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015 and was seen at HGO later that year.