Memory of opera singer Ángela Peralta lives on in Mazatlán, México

Memory of opera singer Ángela Peralta lives on in Mazatlán, México
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<p>Portrait of Ángela Peralta (1845-1883)</p>

Portrait of Ángela Peralta (1845-1883)

Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain. Unknown - where it is listed by the Library of Congress as "no known restrictions on publication in the U.S."

Why is the theatre in Mazatlán, Mexico named after the famous Mexican opera singer Ángela Peralta if she never sang there?

Ángela died tragically of yellow fever on the eve of her intended performances at the theatre in Mazatlán (then called Teatro Rubio). Her memory lives on in the hearts and minds of the local people, and throughout Mexico.

The development of the current theatre and the opera singer’s career have been intertwined by the tragic occasion of her death. The theatre in Mazatlán has been faithfully restored to its earlier opulence and plays a role in preserving her memory.

<p> The Angela Peralta Theater in Mazatlan </p>

The Angela Peralta Theater in Mazatlan

Ph: Wikimedia Commons Author: ElPattMedina

Ángela Peralta died in the Hotel Iturbide near the Plaza Machado in the port city Mazatlán on August 30th, 1883. The wave of yellow fever at the time unfortunately claimed the lives of Ángela and many of the members of her traveling troupe. They had arrived in the port on the 22nd of August, where they were to perform Il trovatore and Aida. The city had prepared an elaborate welcome for her and the locals were devastated at the loss of the singer they so admired.

After a long and tangled history of construction projects, the stylish theatre emerged as Teatro Rubio in 1880 (also inaugurated in 1874), due to the influence of Don Manuel Rubio. Converted to other uses along the way and ravaged by the elements of weather and time, the theatre was left in a state of abandon for several years.

<p>Teatro Ángela Peralta en Mazatlán, Sinaloa. </p>

Teatro Ángela Peralta en Mazatlán, Sinaloa.

Ph: Wikimedia Commons. Source: sinaloaarchivohistorico

The rescue of the theatre now known as the Ángela Peralta Theater started in 1987 and was propelled by the group Amigos del teatro Ángela Peralta. The architect Juan José León Loya of Mazatlán designed the project that would ultimately revive the theatre. In 1990, the theatre was declared to be part of Mexico’s patrimony, el Patrimono Historico de la Nación, and was inaugurated for the 3rd time in 1992.

Ángela Peralta’s career as a singer started early. At 15 she made her operatic debut as Leonora in Giuseppe Verdi's Il trovatore at the Teatro Nacional in Mexico City. Accompanied by her father, she went to Italy to study. In May of 1862 she made her debut at La Scala in Milan with an acclaimed performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.

She returned from Italy at the invitation of the Second Mexican Empire to sing in the National Imperial Theatre in 1865 and sung for Maximilian I of Mexico and Charlotte of Belgium. Subsequently, she came back to Mexico in 1871 and established her own touring opera company. She often sang her signature roles – Amina in La sonnambula and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor.

After some struggles in Mexico City she began a tour of northern Mexico in 1883 with her troupe of Italian opera singers. The tour began in Guaymas, Sonora and included the city of La Paz, Baja California Sur. It was in La Paz that she sang for the last time on stage.

After her heartbreaking death, many famous national and international artists visited her tomb on the anniversary of her death to pay homage to Ángela Peralta. The practice continued even after her physical remains were moved to Mexico City in 1937.

More recently, an opera called La Paloma y el ruiseñor was mounted in 2014 to animate the highlights of the Mexican opera singer’s life. That event included the appearance of Patricia Pérez, a soprano from Mazatlán, dressed in the style of Ángela Peralta. Ms. Pérez appeared in the Plazuela Machado and sang for the crowd, an homage to the loss of the beloved singer.

The legend that Ángela Peralta actually sang from the balcony of the hotel facing the plaza is relatively recent, possibly fomented by the publication of a book in 1999 about the theatre that bears her name; what is known is that she directed a musical event there. The reenactment of Ángela Peralta singing from the balcony initially coincided with a celebration in honor of the inauguration of the theatre on the 14th of February, but occurred sporadically after that. The practice was reinvigorated with the debut of the opera La Paloma y el ruiseñor.

Perhaps the tragedy of Ángela Peralta’s untimely death has contributed to her long-lasting memory and as certainly left its mark on Mazatlán.

Special thanks to Enrique Vega Ayala, Cronista Oficial de Mazatlán

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