Mariachi Opera Honors Braceros

May 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The story of the bracero, Mexican migrant workers who traveled to the United States in the 1940s and 50s to fill the country’s labor shortage, will be told through the sounds of mariachi music fused with ballet folklorico and opera style set pieces tonight at East Los Angeles College.

“El Bracero” will follow the story as told by a former bracero, highlighting the challenges and injustices workers faced at bracero camps in the U.S.

Lea este artículo en Español: Mariachi Ópera Honra a los Braceros

“Some young people may not even know what that word [bracero] means,” acknowledged Miguel Orozco, director and producer of the show.

He hopes that will change with the performance.

“If you didn’t know anything about braceros you will leave with an appreciation for what they did,” he told EGP.

(Photo by Marie Gregorio-Oviedo)

(Photo by Marie Gregorio-Oviedo)

The play will be performed at Ingalls Auditorium May 5 on the ELAC campus. It will take place in conjunction with the Taste of East L.A., which will include food, wine and tequila tastings. The event kicks off at 5:30p.m. Theater doors open at 7p.m.

“We are proud to bring ‘El Bracero’ to East Los Angeles as part of our Cinco de Mayo festivities,” says Marvin Martinez, president of ELAC.

Performers include 10 members of the Mariachi Aguilas de Oxnard, 12 actors, 4 ballet folklorico dancers, and three ELAC students.

The hour-long performance will be performed in Spanish with English subtitles projected on a screen to allow non-Spanish speakers to take part.

The mariachi opera will use music to entertain and educate the audience about the history and culture of the bracero, bringing to life the backdrop of historical photos showing their plight projected on screen.

When most people think of mariachis they think of it in terms of music played at a wedding, restaurant, quinceañera or funeral, observed Orozco, who says his goal is to raise the genre to a new level.

“This is a very unique play,” Orozco explains. “It brings together mariachi music in a way you’ve never seen mariachi music performed.”

“El Bracero” was written by Rosalinda Verde and is based on stories she gathered from her family. The play debuted in Oxnard earlier this year and is being brought to ELAC by the East Los Angeles College Foundation.

Performing it on Cinco de Mayo is very appropriate, notes Orozco.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, when a small, poorly armed band of Mexicans was victorious against powerful French troops. It now serves as a day to celebrate Mexican heritage, explains Orozco, a proud Mexican-American himself.

“To some, this [bracero program] is something that happened so long ago,” said Orozco. But by the end of the show people will  “walk away proud and grateful for the sacrifices made by these men.”

Ticket prices range from $15 to $25 and can be purchased at the box office, at or by calling (323) 265-8901.


Twitter @nancyreporting

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