Jesus and Diego Lopez (17 and 10, respectively) wanted nothing to do with classical music. When their mother, Beatriz Zaragoza, played classical music in the car, the boys complained. This all changed when the family discovered LA Opera’s Zarzuela Project.
With the Community Opera Choruses Network, LA Opera engages people from around LA County (with a concentrated focus on East LA) to explore opera. The Zarzuela Project is a key component of this network. Led by a team of LA Opera teaching artists, the project accepts all ages and weekly rehearsals are held at Salesian High School in East LA. Fernandez’s students rehearse various Zarzuelas and perform them at partner venues around the community. It is a project that is very dear to LA Opera General Director Plácido Domingo, whose parents were both Zarzuela singers.
Diego was the first to express interest in the project, because he loves to sing. Beatriz and Jesus eventually joined and the family noticed how much closer it brought them to the community. For the family, it is also a way to give back to their community. The group often performs at the local hospital and senior center. It’s a wonderful feeling for the family to bring joy and cultural history to other people through Zarzuela. Additionally, it gave them the experience of a lifetime – performing Zarzuela at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and singing with Plácido Domingo.
The Zarzuela Project has also led Jesus and Diego to join Opera Camp at LA Opera for the past few summers. The camp has extended their love of opera and music (particularly for Jesus who plays multiple instruments). Now when Beatriz plays classical music, the boys no longer complain; they like it.