Lyric Opera of Chicago has plans for a virtual concert Sunday unlike anything it has done before: a Spanish-language concert.
“Pasión Latina” is hosted by Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez with musical accompaniment by Craig Terry, music director of the Ryan Opera Center. The concert will feature a variety of Spanish pieces, including some from Spanish operas.
“Today I recorded a duet with David Portillo,” Martínez said. “He’s a beautiful tenor and we’ve never sung together, so that experience was really beautiful.”
Featuring students from the Ryan Opera Program, each singer tried to choose songs that best reflect their talents. For Ricardo Rivera, it was about singing songs highlighting his upbringing in Puerto Rico.
“These were songs that we’d dance to every night,” said Rivera, a third-year baritone. “They’re recognized immediately by people and it’s almost like a sense of going back home when you hear them.”
Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, first-year soprano Denis Vélez has been a practicing opera singer for the past 11 years.
“Well for me it’s fortunate and a privilege to sing in Spanish and show a little of Mexican culture by singing this song,” Vélez said.
The artists say they’re grateful for the opportunity to bring the community together during the pandemic.
“We’ve named it ‘Pasión Latina’ because I think there’s a lot of joy and strength in passion,” Martínez said. “Some melodies will be familiar, some will be new discoveries. But the language will be the common thread. I’ve always thought a person’s favorite word, or a word that will open their heart, is their own name. Then after that it’s their mother tongue. So I am very hopeful everyone will rejoice. Those who speak Spanish, but also those that don’t speak it, but see the beauty and hear the beauty in it.”
“Pasión Latina” premieres Sunday at 6 p.m. on Lyric’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
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Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.