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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Arts & Music

Top opera stars to shine in Tampa at ‘Popera’


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What would opera be without love? Four international opera singers will use their voices to convey that emotion during “L’amour Toujours (Love Always), a Popera!” Friday and Sunday at the Straz Center.

Opera fans and newcomers will enjoy arias from “La Traviata,” “Carmen,” “Madame Butterfly,” and more, interpreted by Ola Rafalo (mezzo-soprano), Eduardo Gómez Villa (tenor), Luis Ledesma (baritone) and Elizabeth de Trejo (soprano), under the direction of Maestro Daniel Lipton of Opera Tampa.

“(Popera!) is the best way to give audiences a taste of what opera is all about,” Lipton said. “And a way to get them to become fans of the musical genre.”

Ledesma, a guest baritone from Mexico, said he was seduced by the genre at young age.

In high school, he studied music for fun. At 18, he knew opera would be his career.

“I thank God for having given me the opportunity to live off my music,” said Ledesma from Mexico, where he is on location performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco. “I am very fortunate to be able to do what I’m doing.”

During his more than two-decade career, Ledesma has won the coveted International Voice Competition hosted by the late Luciano Pavarotti. And he was Andrea Bocelli’s duet partner during a tour that included New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Ledesma said his father has always been his artistic inspiration.

“My father has performed folkloric and mariachi music for more than 50 years,” said Ledesma, one of eight brothers and the only one that sings opera. “Even at 70, his voice is just spectacular.”

Despite performing in a variety of roles, Ledesma said if he had a choice, he would always opt to play the villain.

“If you’re the villain you instill fear, but fear has a strong attraction,” added Ledesma, who will soon perform La Boheme at the German Dresden Semperoper, one of the world’s top opera houses. “I go crazy for dark, deformed roles.”

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