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Mexico City’s Cervantino International Festival Celebrates 50 Years : NPR


A scene from ‘Entremeses Cervantinos’, three one-act plays written by Miguel de Cervantes, in Plaza San Roque, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Germán Romero, courtesy of Cervantino International Festival


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Germán Romero, courtesy of Cervantino International Festival

Mexico City's Cervantino International Festival Celebrates 50 Years : NPR

A scene from ‘Entremeses Cervantinos’, three one-act plays written by Miguel de Cervantes, in Plaza San Roque, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Germán Romero, courtesy of Cervantino International Festival

On a recent Saturday night at the Teatro Juarez in Guanajuato, Portuguese singer Carminho performed her second Fado titled O Comeco (The beginning). She is accompanied by a quartet of bass, electric and acoustic guitars and the emblematic instrument of fado, the Portuguese guitar with 12 steel strings. Fado songs are deeply melancholic, the lyrics are filled with ‘saudade’, a feeling of longing and nostalgia.

It is the first time that Carminho has performed at the Cervantino International Festival and the public is fascinated. Backstage after the show, she says the streets of Guanajuato have a lot of energy, like an erupting volcano. “And when I got on stage, I felt the same intensity from the audience. It was awesome, awesome, unforgettable!” she says.

This year is special. After a virtual edition in 2020, and a hybrid version last year, the festival returns in person and celebrates its 50th anniversary. “It’s a festival where people can come and enjoy theater, dance, music, cinema, literature, gastronomy, street theater, circus, etc.”, explains the director of the festival. Mariana Aymerich. “They can come with the whole family, take advantage of 19 days to feel, dance and reflect with all the artists who are here with us.”

There are 25 sites spread across the city of Guanajuato, most located in the historic center. Sites covered include theatres, baroque churches, a mine and a club in the catacombs beneath the city. Half of the events are free. But one of the best parts of the festival are the outdoor venues: five town squares, an old train station and a supermarket keep the town alive every day.

In the festival’s largest outdoor venue, Coreyah, a psychedelic Korean folk band performs for over 4,000 people. The band is a mix of traditional Korean music, American rock and world beats.

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Each year, the organizers of the festival invite a country and a state from Mexico. Korea is the guest country this year. In collaboration with the Korean Embassy, ​​the festival’s programmers invited 10 different groups including K-Pop group KARD; Sumi Jo, a renowned opera singer; and the Korean National Contemporary Dance Company.

One of the large groups of performers invited by the festival organized a flash mob in Plaza del Baratillo, a picturesque square in the heart of the city. More than 40 performers, including an opera singer and a small orchestra, recreated a piece from their major multidisciplinary show entitled Tururú, Los Jovenes and Viajan by Metro (Young people also travel on the metro).

Taína González is the production manager. She made it a priority to include young people from working-class neighborhoods in Mexico City in the show. “There are a lot of things they could do that they would never have imagined. For example, in the theater group that I lead, many of the participants had no idea that they were going to perform a play” , she says. “They’ve been working on it for a year and it’s wonderful to see how much they’ve grown and how reassuring it is for them.”

For 50 years, the Cervantino Festival has been a cultural reference, nourishing the public and all types of artists. Angela Gonzalez, director of the Ruelas Foundation, says the festival has brought all the great artists from around the world to Mexico. “There is no comparison with what the festival has achieved, at least in Latin America, as a space for a wide range of aesthetic experiences, a place of learning and a space of freedom.”

Mexico City's Cervantino International Festival Celebrates 50 Years : NPR

Orquesta Típica de la CDMX, performing at the Templo de la Compañía, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Germán Romero, courtesy of Cervantino International Festival


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Germán Romero, courtesy of Cervantino International Festival

Mexico City's Cervantino International Festival Celebrates 50 Years : NPR

Orquesta Típica de la CDMX, performing at the Templo de la Compañía, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Germán Romero, courtesy of Cervantino International Festival



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