Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

10 Questions for...
David Lomelí

April 16, 2012


David Lomeli Photo: Kristin Hoebermann
It’s always nice to start big. And that is exactly how tenor David Lomelí kicked off his operatic singing career with an audition for Placido Domingo and eventually two big wins at the 2006 Operalia competition. He’s participated in the Los Angeles Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artists Program and has been an Adler fellow at San Francisco Opera. But now the exciting and warm-voiced tenor is everywhere and likely on an opera stage near you. He won raves for his performances as Nemorino with New York City Opera last year and is in the process of making major debuts with opera companies across the globe. He’s appeared alongside Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in concert, which he’ll do again this summer at the Hollywood Bowl as the Duke of Mantua in a concert performance of Rigoletto on Aug 13. But before then he’ll return to a role that won him accolades last year in Santa Fe, Rudolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème. He’ll be singing the role at Glyndebourne this summer, but if you live in Southern California you don’t need to fly to Britain to catch one of opera’s rising stars, as he’ll be giving three concert performances of the same part starting this Thursday the 19th in Orange County with the Pacific Symphony under Carl St. Clair. First, though, the magnanimous tenor took a moment to reflect on the Out West Arts 10 Questions.

  1. What role would you most like to perform but haven't yet?
    Well, I am making a debut next year in two new Donizetti roles that I am very much looking forward to. Leicester in Maria Stuarda with Oper Frankfurt and Percy in Anna Bolena with Oper Köln. I love to sing bel canto and so far Donizetti really makes my voice very happy. I love these Tudor intrigue operas. I love these stories and books because of the complexity of emotions mixed with raw and powerful music. It's really an experience I'm looking forward to.
  2. What role would you never want to perform even if you could?
    Well I am still very young in my artistic path. So I refuse to say a definite “no” to anything – especially since you never know where the voice will take you. But, I can say that I am not spending a lot of time studying for Tristan or Tannhäuser at present.
  3. You’ve already worked with some of the greatest artists in the opera world at this point in your career. Whom have you not had a chance to work with yet, that you would most like to?
    I would love to work with many artists, but what comes to my mind immediately are two beautiful mezzos that I adore and admire -- Joyce DiDonato and Susan Graham. They are thrilling artists. Also I'm very excited to soon work with the young Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado in Berlin next season. He's a fantastic guy that I also admire.
  4. Your iPod is destroyed by a vengeful mezzo. Which lost tracks would you miss most?
    Well, I hope it wasn’t destroyed by Joyce or Susan!! I would dearly miss all of my salsa tracks, my full discography of Wunderlich, Björling, Gigli, Pavarotti and Di Stefano and some obscure electric dance music I like from my club days in Ibiza, Spain. But I have back-up so I am not too sad.

  1. You will be appearing in Orange County later this month with the Pacific Symphony as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, a role you will also sing at Glyndebourne this summer. What are the challenges in portraying one of the opera stage’s greatest young lovers?
    Well because it is such a popular opera, people already have so much in their imagination. They can already hear Pavarotti or Caruso or they can see in their minds the newer versions like Rent. I do not worry because I can make my own stamp on this. But, another thing is that people make the mistake of thinking that because this is about young lovers, that it is a perfect opera for young singers. Really, it is a very difficult piece requiring much experience – with big orchestration and hard music. It is difficult both for singers and conductors. But I love this opera and this role and look forward to share my interpretation with my friends in Los Angeles.
  2. This summer, you'll be appearing at the Hollywood Bowl as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Does appearing in a concert performance of an operatic role make things more or less difficult for you as a performer than in a fully staged one?
    Though I love the full staging, I confess that I also really enjoy the concert performances. In concert, you have the chance to focus just on the music and on your own voice. I can really connect my artistry with the audience when I sing in concert.

As the Duke of Mantua with the Canadian Opera Company Photo: Chris Hutcheson 2011

  1. What music most inspired you to sing opera?
    Because I was born in Mexico, it has to be our mariachi singing and the zarzuela that I heard a lot from a young age. It’s fantastic yet difficult music that requires a high and free passagio freedom and good top to be able to do it well. It's so full of sentiment and raw emotion that it was an easy transition from that to opera.
  2. A composer proposes a new opera with a part especially for you. What person or character would you most like to have written for you?
    I would like to do an opera based on The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. It would be fantastic to play a tenor Gandalf or a tenor Jon Snow!!! It would be awesome to sing Gandalf’s phrase from The Lord of the Rings "you shall not pass" in a high C.
  3. With which of your operatic roles do you have the most in common?
    Rodolfo's romanticism, Werther's sensibility and Nemorino's simplicity are the pillars of my own character.
  4. What’s your current obsession?
    My current obsession is my new bride, of course, the soprano Sara Gartland. And a far second to that is the game of golf!!! I got married in Pebble Beach and my wife’s family is very passionate and quite good at golf. In particular my father-in-law is very good – he is president of Avis, a sponsor of PGA. So he gets to play and go to places like Sawgrass and Doral and meet pros like Steve Stricker. I learned that golf is very much like singing. The technique is quite easy to understand but to master it takes years of constant practice. I love it even though I have a very high handicap.



Charming all around.
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