Perhaps the biggest operatic event in my life was watching, along with millions of others, the 1990 PBS broadcast of “The Three Tenors” concert in Rome, starring Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo (born in Madrid), and José Carreras (born in Barcelona). That’s right, two-thirds of the famous trio were Hispanic! The lone Italian was known as “The King of the High Cs” referring to an aria in the opera “The Daughter of the Regiment” in which the tenor sings nine high C-notes in the space of about a minute. Well, wouldn’t you know, his rightful successor to that title is none other than Metropolitan Opera star, the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez. Señor Flórez will not be on the Met schedule this season, but many other Hispanic singers are and you can hear them on Saturdays at 1 pm on WNED Classical. Here, by date of appearance, are the Hispanic artists you can enjoy this 2021-2022:
Dec. 18: Rolando Villazón (Mexican) will star in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” – abridged English-language version. Villazón will sing the role of the comic character Papageno, the bird catcher.
Jan. 1, 2022: Isabel Leonard (Argentine ancestry on her mother's side) will star in Massenet’s “Cinderella” – abridged English-language version. Leonard will sing the title role Cinderella. It will also be simulcast on the Met's Live in HD series in movie theaters.
Jan. 22: Gabriella Reyes (Nicaraguan-American) will star in Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Reyes will sing the role of the saucy Musetta.
Feb. 12: Ailyn Pérez (daughter of Mexican immigrants) will be a soloist in the radio re-broadcast of Verdi’s “Requiem,” a moving performance from just this past Sept. 11, 2021 which was televised as part of the Great Performances series on our sister station WNED PBS. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the music director of the Met, conducted the orchestra, chorus, and four stunning soloists with diverse heritage: Pérez (soprano), Elīna Garanča (mezzo-soprano), Matthew Polenzani (tenor), and Eric Owens (bass).
March 12: Isabel Leonard (Argentine ancestry on her mother's side) will star in Richard Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos.” In this opera about which is more important, lyrics or music, Leonard sings the role of Composer to Johannes Martin Kränzle's "Music Master." It will also be simulcast on the Met's Live in HD series in movie theaters.
May 21: Nadine Sierra’s mom was Portuguese-born, her father is Puerto Rican-Italian, and her grandmother was a talented opera singer in Lisbon whose dreams were dashed by a father who didn't want his daughter singing for living. Now Sierra is living her grandmother’s dream and will star in Donizetti’s bel canto opera “Lucia di Lammermoor.” Sierra will sing the demanding role of Lucia and the opera will also be simulcast on the Met's Live in HD series in movie theaters.
For WNED Classical and The Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, it’s not just a month, it’s “National Hispanic Season.”