Charming beginnings: Santiago Sanchez

The Uruguayan tenor Santiago Sanchez studied piano at the Conservatory of Torrevieja (Alicante) and went on with his singing studies in Ontinyent, Valencia.
After his studies in Spain, he moved to Salzburg (Austria) to continue his studies of Bachelor Gesang in the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg. Currently he completes a Master on Lied and Oratorio with Prof. Mario Diaz and Prof. Pauliina Tukiainen. Since the season 20/21, Santiago is a stable member of the ensemble at Theater Bonn, in Germany. On the season 21/22 in Theater Bonn, Santiago will perform the title role of Don Carlo (G. Verdi), Alfred in J. Strauss ́ Die Fledermaus and Don Ottavio in Mozart ́s Don Giovanni.
On the same house he ́ll be performing the role of Albert in the world premiere of R. Liebermanns Leonore 40/45. Previous engagements include a half-staged production of Faust in Theater Bonn, Alfredo in La Traviata at the Teatro Municipale di Piacenza under the direction of Pier Giorgio Morandi and Leo Nucci and the Lampionaio in Manon Lescaut at Oper Frankfurt under the direction of Lorenzo Viotti and Alex Ollé.
Santiago sang, among other roles, Mozart ́s Requiem at the Teatro Ristori in Verona, Soliman (Zaide) at the Tiroler Festspiele in Erl, Hitziger Spieler (at Prokofiev ́s The Gambler) at the Wiener Staatsoper with Simone Young, a Lehrbube (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) with Daniele Gatti at Teatro alla Scala and Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) at Oper Maxlrain. 

You studied piano at the Conservatory of Torrevieja and went on with your singing studies in Ontinyent, then you moved to Salzburg for the Bachelor Gesang in Universität Mozarteum. Three different countries compared among them: musically and personally speaking, what each one has taught you the most? What does a city like Salzburg, where you live and study, offer to a young opera singer? Compared to other European cities, how do you perceive it? Why did you choose it?

I’ve never had the pleasure to study music while living in Uruguay, both Torrevieja and Ontinyent are cities of Valencian Comunity in Spain, where I moved with my family as a child. Moving countries is often the start of something special. I started studying piano under the encouragement of my parents, not really knowing much of what was going on. With the voice it was different, I sang in choirs and worked from an early age performing all kinds of music as a pop singer, with a vocal ensemble or with jazz bands. It was lots of fun. Then I focused on learning the lyric technique. It was a very organic way through ballads or musical songs, then zarzuela and operetta romanzas, until finally operatic arias came into play. Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, JDF or Kaufmann were the first tenors I heard of, mostly because of their participation on our folkloric music, musicals or the crossover genre. The magnitude of jumping to a music university such as Mozarteum was way out of my comprehension back then. After a few years in a conservatory in Spain I had to figure out how to go further with my vocal studies, so I did some research online and asked some friends from the musical world where to go next. Unlike Spain, Austria offered the possibility to study without having to pay a student fee, so I travelled there to audition and found out a few weeks after that I got accepted. I only realised what a unique spot for musicians Salzburg was after I moved there. It’s a small city full of culture where thousands of musical performances take place every year. There thecultural engagement is impressive, not to talk about the natural beauty of the city. I loved it from day one.

Is there a personality of reference in the theatrical field who has left and given to you his knowledge, his vision of opera performances or his artistic philosophy?

Not a particular one, but many of them, every day. There´s many people who have given me the tools to do what I like to do the most. They’re teachers, accompanists, conductors, regisseurs, agents or opera managers who want the best for me and my future. I like to call them my team. Every person around us can be helpful and empowering, we just need to encourage them to believe on us and to give us accurate advice. If they feel motivated, they might quickly hand over the precise exercise or vocal tipwe were looking for. I’m thankful to everyone in the field who support my work and help my development in any way. I also let myself inspire from the great singers of the past. I read about their lives and listen to their singing every day. I’m truly thankful to them as well, although they don’t know me.

Read the entire interview here, in the 6th/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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