How many wonderful Mexican tenors can you name? Although Placido Domingo was born in Madrid, he was vocally trained in Mexico. Rolando Villazon's debut sent an earthquake through the opera world. Javier Camarena actually had an encore in La Cenerentola last year at the Metropolitan Opera, a very rare event. Could César Delgado be the next big discovery? After hearing his recital at Mannes this afternoon, celebrating his being awarded a Professional Artists Diploma, we consider him a strong front-runner.
We first heard Mr. Delgado at the Hispanic Society of America some months ago (review archived) and couldn't wait to hear him again. They must have some excellent training in Mexico; Mr. Delgado received his Artists Diploma from the Sinaloa Opera Program.
He opened this afternoon's program with Tata Nacho's "Intima" and one could tell immediately that his instrument is an impressive one. It filled the hall where a lesser voice might not have cut through Alla Milchtein's enthusiastic accompaniment on the piano. "Despedida" by Maria Grever followed and it became evident that Mr. Delgado knows how to express Latin passion. We feared we would overdose on romance.
"Mario's Farewell" from Daniel Catán's last opera Il Postino, made famous by Placido Domingo, was given a winning and moving performance. The Mexican section ended with "Dime que sì" by Esparza Otero. Mr. Delgado can end a song in a burst of passion or with a delicate diminuendo.
The second half of the program showed what Mr. Delgado could do in other languages and rest assured there was no loss of involvement in the material. In charmingly accented English, he expressed exactly what one would have wishes from Tony's aria "Maria" from Bernstein's West Side Story.
Rachmaninoff's "Spring Waters" clearly showed how Russian passion and Spanish passion are akin to one another. Lehar's "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from Das Land des Lächelns showed good facility with German. "Questa o Quella" from Verdi's Rigoletto gave Mr. Delgado an opportunity to change from a tender romantic to an arrogant Duke; he succeeded admirably.
The closing number, the familiar "No puede ser" from Sorozabal's La Tabernera del Puerto came at just the moment when we were thinking about zarzuela. We can never get enough vocal music in the Spanish language. We have been hearing it on programs more and more recently. Our fondest dream would be to see a complete zarzuela performed. Is anyone listening?
A sincerely wished-for encore delighted us no end--Agustin Lara's "Granada", calling forth our memories of having visited the Alhambra. Good music will do that to you!
Mr. Delgado is off to Italy where he will sing the role of Nemorino. We don't doubt that he can lay aside his confident manner to portray the shy hero. We wish we could be there to witness.
(c) meche kroop