Emotions ran high at a recent performance of “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna” (“To Cross the Face of the Moon”) at the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts in Northridge, California. José “Pepe” Martinez’s mariachi opera premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2010, and it has been performed across the United States and in Paris to rave reviews. It’s been called the “immigration opera,” telling the stories of a Mexican man who leaves his family behind to cross the barren landscape of the desert on a journey to find work in Texas. It’s an emotional story that’s relevant today.

But the Southern California premiere was especially poignant.

In the audience were 58 DREAMers, all student recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, along with more than 100 of their family members.

Among the DREAMers in attendance were 18-year-old Carlos Martinez and 23-year-old Sarai Arrona, both students at California State University, Northridge. Martinez, a freshman studying art education, says this performance of “Cruzar” marked the first time he had ever been to an opera. Arrona, who is studying early childhood development, says that while she had heard mariachi music her whole life, she had recently become a bigger fan of the genre after watching the 2017 Oscar-nominated Disney movie “Coco,” which heavily features Mexican folk and mariachi music.

When Martinez, Arrona, and the other DREAMers and their families were recognized from the stage before the performance, the crowd roared and cheered in response. The audience’s enthusiasm was a resounding show of support for a group of individuals whose lives and futures are currently held in complicated legal limbo, caught in the crossfire of contentious, hotly debated national politics.

Read the full article about “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna,” an opera about immigration, by Catherine Womack at GOOD Magazine.