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Dallas Middle School Students Put Operatic Flair on Upcoming Mariachi Performance

A Dallas Middle School musical group is preparing for a performance unlike any other: combining two rich musical art forms.

Stockard Middle School in Dallas has long been steeps in Mexican tradition.

It is one of only two Dallas I.S.D. middle schools with a mariachi program for students.

The teen-aged boys and girls dressed in traditional mariachi clothing as they gathered for a short rehearsal Thursday afternoon.

The school’s mariachi group dubbed ‘The Mariachi Pantera de Oro’ [the school mascot is a panther] will hold a special performance on Friday evening with an Italian infusion: Giuseppe Verdi’s beloved opera ‘La Traviata.’

“I can’t even believe you can combine mariachi and opera together,” said 13-year-old Marcelo Reyes. “I was shocked at first because I was like: I’ve never done an opera or seen an opera.”

The new adaptation was translated into Spanish and was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

The adaptation was specially made for students at Stockard, a school where 93-percent of students are Hispanic.

The collaboration is part of the Met’s educational initiative to bring arts to classrooms nationwide.

“It’s going to change the vision of opera,” said 13-year-old Julio Balsells.

Julio and his sister Amy Balsells appreciate similarities in mariachi and opera music.

“It’s cool because it’s telling stories by singing,” said Julio.

Teacher Beth Poquette Drews spearheaded the effort at Stockard.

She said the performance will include 35 students, all 7th and 8th graders.

“The first time they ran through it from the very beginning to the end and I saw all the songs and transitions happen I was like: wow, this is really something cool,” she said.

The majority of the new opera singers are English language learners, according to Poquette Drews.

Proving that love of music and culture is universal.

Friday’s performance at Stockard Middle School is free and open to the public.

It begins at 6:30 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.

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