This past June 2019, former Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza 1999 Best in the U.S.Grand Champion vocalist Vanessa Alonso posted a message to all of her Facebook followers that the prestigious Houston Grand Opera (HGO) would soon be holding auditions for an upcoming opera. The HGO was in search of three talented cast members who could sing and play the guitar, vihuela or guitarron for their newest holiday opera “El Milagro del Recuerdo” (The Miracle of Remembering). This newly commissioned opera serves as a prequel to “Cruzar La Cara de la Luna” and was written by Leonard Foglia and Javier Martinez who continues the mariachi opera legacy that was left by his father, former Musical Director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Jose “Pepe” Martinez, Sr. “El Milagro del Recuerdo” is the latest of several initiatives spearheaded by the HGO that combines mariachi music with opera.
Vanessa’s social media posting soon caught the attention of San Antonio native Vincent Pequeño who contacted Mark Lear, Associate Artistic Administrator for the HGO. While on the call, Mark expressed interest in auditioning a trio which, in turn, led Vince to reach out to Kyle, TX native William “Carlton” Galvez,” and Laredo, TX native Israel Alcala. The three auditioned as Trio Chapultepec at the Wortham Center in Houston on Tuesday, July 9. Both Leonard Foglia and Javier Martinez were among the four HGO representatives that day in the audition room.
Trio Chapultepec auditioned with the classic son jaliscience El Cihualteco. “My adrenaline was pumping as this was a very exciting moment for me,” said Carlton. “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to perform with the Houston Grand Opera.”
Javier asked the group to play the classic huapango La Malagueña. Although they had yet to rehearse the piece together, it was a song they were all familiar with. “I was confident going into the audition because I felt that we each had our unique strengths that we brought to the table,” says Vincent. “We hadn’t rehearsed La Malagueña so this made us a bit nervous, but never-the-less, we performed it and Leonard and Javier were impressed.”
Two hours following the audition, Vince, Carlton and Ismael simultaneously received a text message from the Houston Grand Opera that read “I’m very pleased to say that we would like to engage all three of you as the on-stage mariachi trio for “El Milagro del Recuerdo.”
Vincent, Carlton and Israel will be joined on stage by Vanessa Alonso, a fan favorite HGO cast member, who has also played a strong role in the previous two mariachi operas Cruzar la Cara de la Luna and El Pasado Nunca Se Termina. Trio Chapultepec follows not only in the footsteps of Vanessa Alonso but also in those of former Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza participants Sebastien de la Cruz (San Antonio), Yomara Cortez (Roma), and Francisco Garcia, Jr. (Roma).
William Carlton Galvez is the 2013 former “Best in the U.S.” Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Vocal Competition winner. Vincent, Israel and Carlton competed in the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza National Group Competition in 2018 while members with San Antonio College’s Mariachi del Alamo. The group was selected as top winners among colleges and universities in the U.S. by members of the world’s preeminent Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
From the entire mariachi music community, Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza and Mariachimusic.com, congratulations Trio Chapultepec. Ya’ done good and we’re proud of ya! Felicidades muchachos!
El Milagro del Recuerdo will premiere in Houston, TX on Thursday, December 5th and run through Sunday, December 22nd. This opera is set during the Christmas holidays in the Mexican state of Michoacán and will be sung in Spanish with an English translation projected. For more information on El Milagro del Recuerdo please visit https://www.houstongrandopera.org/milagro.