San Jose performance connects teens to legends of their parents

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Editor’s note: This story was produced for the independent Mosaic Journalism Program for Bay Area high school students, an intensive course in journalism. Students in the program report and photograph stories under the guidance of professional journalists.

Ópera Cultura wants young people to immerse themselves in the legend of La Llorona with their new musical drama “La Llorona: The Weeping Woman.”

In a version of the Mexican legend of La Llorona, a bereft wife and mother is overcome with grief after her children drown, so she kills herself and becomes a ghost, doomed to walk the land forever. She spends her days snatching the souls of other children who wander too far from home.

The musical follows María, whose romance with a Spanish man leads to a series of tragic events and fatal encounters at the Xochil River, a fictional place in Mexico.

Creator Héctor Armienta, Executive Director Sandra Raquel Bengochea, Assistant Director/Dramaturg Maribel Martinez, and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Sánchez discussed the project at a panel at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana in San Jose on June 13.They spoke about the origin of the legend and why it is important that La Llorona, a character known to be a soul-snatching spirit, is portrayed through a feminist lens.

For Martinez, the production was an opportunity not only to tell the story of La Llorona, but also to give the Latinx community a chance to be represented in the performing arts.

“These stories already exist,” Martinez said, using both English and Spanish to describe why the production, and others like it, are important. “More people can see that it’s possible, that they can see themselves on stage as artists, as singers and also as writers. We have to amplify those examples because our stories are valid. They’re needed.”

Armienta, who said he was partly inspired to write the musical because of his connection to his mother and her culture, invites teens to watch the show, which prides itself on reclaiming the legend to be told by its descendants.

“Our stories are being forgotten, and we can’t let that happen,” Armienta said. “It’s an opportunity to reflect. It’s not just a traditional story of a mother killing a daughter. It’s also about who we are, where we come from. It’s a way for us to connect to our parents, our grandparents, and not to forget who we are.”

The production will be held at 7 p.m. on June 22 and at 2 p.m. on June 23 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza Theatre in San Jose. The performance is recommended for children ages 12 and older. Tickets are available at operacultura.org/events/la-llorona.

Nanki Kaur is a member of the class of 2025 at American High School in Fremont.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.