Arturo Chacón-Cruz: Whenever you’re faced with a difficult choice in the future, it’s good to listen to that little voice inside your head that comes from your confidence and hard work, and not the one born out for fear.

Since winning Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition in 2005, Arturo’s career has seen a successful and steady development. His repertoire spans from Bellini and Donizetti to Puccini and Verdi. Some of his more sought after roles are: Rodolfo, the Duke of Mantua, Alfredo, Jacopo Foscari, Manrico, Don Jose, Gabriele Adorno, B.F. Pinkerton, Hoffmann, Werther, and Romeo to name a few. Recent highlights include house debut at the Vienna State Opera, his role debut as Manrico in Il Trovatore, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Oronte in Verdi’s I Lombardi in Montecarlo, Cavaradossi in Tosca in Oviedo, Spain, Ismael in Nabucco in Valencia, Spain, and Rodolfo in Verdi’s Luisa Miller in Barcelona, as well as a reprisal of one of his signature roles, the eponymous role in Massenet’s Werther in Stuttgart’s State Opera. Upcoming performances in the 2022/2023 include Edgardo in Simon Stone’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor in Los Angeles, Alfredo in La Traviata in Seville, the title role of Verdi’s Don Carlo (Maryland Lyric Opera), The Tales of Hoffmann in Las Palmas, he will reprise the role of Manrico in Menorca, as well as concerts in Mexico City and Monterrey (with Placido Domingo), San Francisco, Paris, and Montecarlo. In addition to an extensive existing operatic discography, the artist’s first solo CD is available. “Arturo Chacón le canta a México”, features some of the most beautiful Mexican music ever written, and is accompanied by the Orquesta Filarmónica de Sonora.

Dear Arturo, thank you for accepting our invitation! It’s a pleasure to chat with you. You’re currently at the Maryland Lyric Opera for Verdi’s Don Carlo. After that you’re going to Teatro Principal de Maó for Verdi’s Il Trovatore. In the past you had a quite interesting relationship with Manrico: you wanted to make your debut and immediately after you decided to postpone it and to return to the lyric repertoire. What was the strategy in approaching the role? When did you realize you were/weren’t ready for this change?

Thank you, dear Alice. It’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you and to reach your readers’ screens through Opera Charm! Yes, I am in Maryland right now, the debut as Carlo was great. I am enjoying this new repertoire and the wait was worth it. Exactly, in 2015, I was scheduled to make my Manrico (Il Trovatore) debut in France and Luxembourg. In that time, there was a small voice inside my head saying it was too soon to sing it. I was able to “sing through it” but it didn’t feel like the right fit. I stuck to singing the Duke, Alfredo, and Rodolfo for a few more years. Last year, when an opportunity to sing Manrico came up, I didn’t hear that small voice in my head anymore. Instead, every instinct told me it was time. I had been singing many full lyric roles (Luisa Miller, Hoffmann, Macbeth, Tosca, etc.) as well as intensive tours of concerts and overlapping rehearsals. I had to test my endurance and technique and I managed it without feeling vocally fatigued. That was the main indicator telling me that I was ready.

The beginning of this year found you at the Teatro Regio di Parma for the premiere of Carmen directed by Silvia Paoli and conducted by Jordi Bernàcer, alongside Martina Belli and Ramona Zaharia in the title role. This production was long discussed because of its innovative approach. What do you think about Paoli’s conception?

Regarding your character, Don Jose, in your opinion, do you think that this production succeeded in bringing out Jose’s true nature and the drama he was going through? Yes, it was an adjustment of my longtime romanticized conception of Don Jose as a victim. I believe that Opera continues to be a reflection of our society. An ugly and ubiquitous reality is gender violence. Our society has tried to erase the obvious effects of this by misplacing blame on women, blaming homicide and rape on what girls were wearing or when and where they were walking. Paoli’s concept was to show the ugliness in Jose’s mind, how his idealization of the feminine figure (Mother, Wife, and Whore) is in such a disconnect with reality that it breaks his mind. I also believe that Opera makes us think and helps our ideas evolve. The onlyroad to enlightenment is to challenge the status quo beliefs, and I think that this production succeeded in doing that.

Read the entire interview here, in the 4th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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