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Mexico’s murder city opera

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Mexico’s murder city opera

Mexico’s most violent city is also one of its most cultured

Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, has gained global notoriety as the most murderous city on the planet with a stunning 3,075 homicides last year.

But this week, it has thankfully gained some media attention for a lighter side: opera.

Mexican newspapers have highlighted how Juarez is the only city in this country where you can see two major opera productions in a single week.

The operas, including titles such as La Bohéme by Puccini, provide a way for many Juarenses to escape their violent reality.

“In five years I have seen 21 operas that this has allowed me to go on enjoying life,” resident Ana Mendoza told the Reforma newspaper. “Yes, I am scared (of the streets) but I don’t hide. I try to do things, to travel in the city and go to the opera to show that I am okay, defending myself.”

Many works are performed by the Juarez Symphonic Orchestra, founded in 2006, and shown at a theater that is 500 yards away from military checkpoints.

The public even turn out in the hundreds to watch live transmissions of operas from the Metropolitan Opera House of New York.

Another opera fan Andres del Villar told the media that opera helps him console how his nephew was kidnapped and mutilated.

“Opera doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t take away our fear,” he said. “But in the time that the music plays, in these moments everything is okay, and for a second we can have the illusion that the future will be better. And this little hope is enough to make you go on.”

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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