Festival Cervantino, Latin America’s biggest cultural event, returns with new energy

On a recent Saturday evening at the Juárez Theater in Guanajuato, Portuguese singer Carminho performed his second Fado song. O Começo (The beginning). He is accompanied by a quartet of bass, electric and acoustic guitars and the emblematic instrument of fado, the 12-steel Portuguese guitar. Fado songs are deeply melancholic, the lyrics are full of nostalgia and longing.

This is Carminho’s first appearance at the Cervantino International Festival and the audience is enthralled. Backstage, after the show, he says the streets of Guanajuato have as much energy as an erupting volcano. “And when I went on stage, I got the same intensity from the audience. It was wonderful, wonderful, unforgettable!” he says.

This year is special. After a virtual edition in 2020 and a hybrid version last year – the festival is coming back to life and celebrating its 50th anniversary. “This is a festival where people can enjoy theater, dance, music, film, literature, gastronomy, street theater, circus and more,” says the festival director. Mariana Aymerich. “They will come with the whole family and enjoy to feel, dance and think with all the artists who are with us for 19 days.”

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Guanajuato has 25 accommodations, most of which are located in the historic center. Indoor venues include theaters, baroque churches, a mine and a club in the catacombs beneath the city. Half of the event is free. But one of the best components of the festival is the open spaces: five town squares, a former train station and a supermarket bring the city to life every day.

In the largest outdoor area of ​​the festival, a Korean folk group called Koreyya performs in front of more than 4,000 people. The band is a mix of traditional Korean music, American rock and world rhythms.

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

One of the big performing groups invited by the festival held a flashmob in the Plaza del Baratillo, a beautiful square in the heart of the city. More than 40 performers, including an opera singer and a small orchestra, were performing excerpts from their large multidisciplinary show. Tururu, Los Jovenes Tambien Viajan and Metro (Young people also travel by metro).

Taina Gonzalez is the director of the play. He made it a priority to include young people from the working class districts of Mexico City in the play. “There are many things that they can do and never imagined. For example, most of the participants of the theater group that I lead did not think that they would put on a play,” he says. “They’ve been working on it for a year and it’s great to see how much they’ve grown and how convincing it is for them.”

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For 50 years, the Cervantino Festival has been a cultural reference, educating the public and various artists. Angela Gonzalez, director of the Ruela Foundation, says the festival brings all the best performers from around the world to Mexico. “There is no comparison to what the festival has achieved, at least in Latin America, as a space for a wide range of aesthetic experience, a space for learning and freedom.”

Copyright 2022 NPR. For more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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

/ Germán Romero, courtesy of Cervantino International Festival


Courtesy of Herman Romero, Cervantino International Festival

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


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