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TO APRIL 13
As part of its third annual AmericArtes festival, the Kennedy Center has brought in a host of idiosyncratic divas and some big-star hombres. Irene Farrera will be here. This Venezuelan sang Brazilian standards on her first disc, but of latewith the group Venezuela Viva (at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, March 7)she has been applying her jazzlike phrasing to the folky melodies of her homeland. Astrid Hadad (pictured) and Los Tarzanes (at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, March 21st) do flamboyant cabaret, which often finds the diva dressed as an Aztec pyramid or the Virgin of Guadalupe as she meshes melodramatic ranchera and Weillesque melodies with political lyrics. The operatic phrasing of Eugenia Leon (at 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, March 15th) may not be pop-friendly, but she has garnered a dedicated audience over the past 20 years. Eva Ayllon (at 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, March 22) was knocking ’em dead at home long before Susana Baca brought the ballads of Black Peru stateside. Chavela Vargas and Lila Downs (at 8 p.m. Monday, March 24th) presented strikingly passionate Mexican laments in Selma Hayek’s Frida. The 80-plus-year-old Vargas, who was once involved with Kahlo, still imbues each phrase with as many tears as drops of sweat. Downs, the daughter of a Mixtec singer, is an eclectic warbler who has trilled melancholia over mariachi horns, rapped about migrants, and transformed Woody Guthrie’s music into Mexican immigrant anthems. Los Tigres del Norte (at 8 p.m. Monday, March 17), a quintet which includes four brothers, has sold millions of records with a fine blend of bouncy, accordion-fueled norteno, working-class love songs, and story-ballad corridos about drug dealers. The series, which also includes theater, dance, literary, and film events, runs to Sunday, April 13; see City List for details. (Steve Kiviat)