Yesterday we indulged in our love of live music with a day trip to Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara. Well, sort of. As noted in a previous post, Mexico is full of music. We enjoy it almost every day here in Chapala. Yet, we were longing for the musical events we loved back in the U.S. We got our wish satisfied.
First up, we took in an opera broadcast live from the Met (the Metropolitan Opera in New York City). Truth be told, it was a delayed broadcast of last Saturday’s actual live event (on March 31), delayed because of the overwhelming celebration of Holy Week and Easter throughout Mexico.
The opera was the Mozart classic, Cosi Fan Tutte. I’ve seen this opera a number of times, each time a different production with a new stage setting. This latest iteration had the backdrop of 1950s Coney Island, complete with circus artists filling the stage. A truly glorious production and beautifully sung by the six leads.
Teatro Diana hosted the event, right in downtown Guadalajara. And it’s a perfect setting for the Live from the Met broadcasts. Yes, the subtitles are in Spanish, so brush up on the libretto before you attend or, better yet, use the opportunity to learn written Spanish.
Following the opera, we headed toward Telmex Auditorium in the northern part of the city, where the Corona Capital Festival happened. The Festival is billed as the premier musical annual event in Mexico. [Telmex Auditorium hosts many major musical acts, both Mexican and internationally-known.}
We did not know what to expect, beyond the relatively limited information on the festival website.
Still, we had a powerful (for us at least) reason to make this foray–David Byrne of Talking Heads fame was bringing his solo tour to Guadalajara in support of his new album, American Utopia.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, the number one question we get as geezers living in paradise is how safe it is to live here.
We drove easily to the venue, found parking and began the walk to the festival entrance. Police presence was everywhere. Not heavily armed, although I’m sure if the need arose, those resources were readily available. I felt a lot more safe here than at similar events I have attended back in the U.S.
Approaching the entry, there were two pathways. Several times I was admonished to move over the right side (Bonnie and I were walking on the left side) so we moved over. Then the reverse would happen. Finally, an English-speaking Mexicana explained that men and women entered separately.
So we split up. At the entry, ticket displayed, I was gently patted down by a security man and then was asked to go over to show my day bag to a police officer for inspection. Bonita received a similar inspection from a female. This accomplished, Bonita and I met up again and went through the final gate where our tickets were scanned and we were finally in the festival grounds.
And we sure felt like geezers. The sea of people were all in their twenties and thirties, although the twenties and younger were the main demographic. The only people we saw who could be described as mature were either police, festival officials or firefighters.
And, we saw no other gringos the entire day.
Yet, we felt totally welcome, even though we were the source of some amusement among the young.
The grounds were sparkling and dazzling; multi-colored structures, mainly presented by Mexican corporations dotted the landscape. Along with lots of food vendors (with a deep selection of all kinds of cuisine) and cerveza (beer) everywhere.
And it was hot and sunny. Early April through the end of May is the hot season here. We managed to find some shade under a canopy near one of the food courts and crowded ourselves in with other refugees from the heat.
The festival boasts three main stages and a couple of smaller ones. Music is continuous from the open (1PM) to the an hour before the close (1AM). We sat and ate and enjoyed whatever music was playing, while we waited for David Byrne.
David was scheduled from 5:20PM to 6:20PM so around 5PM we made our way through the crowds (every increasing) to secure ourselves a good spot to enjoy the show. Miraculously, we found a shaded area beside the sound control tower and joined several hundred youths there.
Right at 5:20 (the entire festival ran with military precision), David came out on stage and it was on with the show!
A collaboration with the Detroit School of the Arts, after David did the first song by his lonesome, the curtains parts and ten musicians joined him onstage: four drummers (each having one drum used like a marching band), keyboard, guitars, synth and a dancer or two.
The show was a mix of cuts from American Utopia and some of the Talking Heads catalog (Once In A Lifetime and Blind were standouts). And to finish, of course, Burning Down The House.
It was the first time either of us had gotten to see David and we had never had the chance to see the Talking Heads (although the move Stop Making Sense is a good second).
The show was everything we had hoped for and even more.
Following the show, with the blazing sun finally on a course to set, we found seats on a picnic-table bench and rested, awaiting Alanis Morissette. Right on schedule Alanis hit the stage. We listened for a while and finally decided to make our way home.
Did I mention we are now geezers?
A little too much angst in the music and we were unwilling to await one of our all-time favorite songs, Thank You, which we assumed would be the closing number, so we headed for the salida (exit).
We might have stayed. The Killers, a band that is huge among the twenty-somethings were headlining. We’d listened to them on Spotify (yes, it works just fine here in Mexico) and both felt they were not quite our cup of tea. And the other headliner, Robin Schulz, had canceled his appearance. We would have stayed to see him!
So, satiated with glorious music, albeit it radically different styles and environments, we made our way back to Chapala.
But not for long. Next Saturday, we’re off for the live broadcast of Luisa Miller by Verdi live from the Met, again at Teatro Diana.
Ahhhhh, the musical life is a good life. At least for these geezers in paradise.