OC's stateside, pacing big-a$$ museums and evenly-kerned sidewalks and nibbling pumpkin spice versions of every food & beverage that exists. For Grazia.it, we're all about Mexicans -- Rolando Villazón & Ailyn Pérez -- who both recently-celebrated NYC performances.
Rolando was one of four soloists (with Marina Poplavskaya, Christine Rice & Mikhail Petrenko) who made this Milan-x-Jersey girl happy with Verdi's Requiem Mass (which premiered at San Marco church, blocks from OC's Brera home) to usher-in Yannick Nézet-Séguin's successful Carnegie Hall debut with his Philadelphia Orchestra. You can read about it, in Italian, on Grazia.it here.Then we slammed back an interview with Ailyn Pérez from Miami, where she had been preparing to sing the La bohème lead at the Florida Grand Opera (which opened earlier tonight). Between gown fittings and jewelry-curating (at Cartier #diva4lyfe) she chatted about preparations for the 2012 Annual Richard Tucker Gala that bowed on November 11 as the first Latina winner to scoop-up the award, shadows of Hollywood's and opera's great Latina & Latino stars. Read about it here on Grazia.it, but sure, click below for the English translation and look up at her stunning gown.
As this year’s Richard Tucker Music Foundation recipient, Mexican-American soprano Ailyn Pérez is awarded a $30,000 purse, but the implication is priceless: she’s the first Latina winner in its 34-year history. As Guest of Honor at this year's Richard Tucker Gala on November 11 in New York City, Jimmy Choo platform stilettos matched her many dresses – Ella Bella for RoZio Couture and an Oscar de la Renta red faille gown – and she glittered in exclusively-loaned Cartier jewels.
Born in Chicago to first-generation Mexican immigrants, Pérez graduated in vocal performance from Indiana University in 2001 and studied at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts until 2006. In 2005, while singing opposite classmate Stephen Costello in La bohème, their two-year friendship blossomed into romance and they married in 2008.
Two days before the gala, Grazia.it spoke with Pérez from Miami as she prepared for La bohème, which opens at the Florida Grand Opera on November 17.
What does it feel like to be a recipient of the Richard Tucker Award?
It's such an extreme honor. It feels like your country and the opera community is behind you. To have this award means that every time I step onto the stage, I’ll continue Richard Tucker’s legacy. It's extraordinary. I'm out of my mind with excitement!
What about being the first Hispanic singer to receive the award its 34-year history?
For an opera singer to be singled-out at any point in their career is very special but I don't think I’ll be the only Hispanic in its history – it's just the beginning. It's great to think that I could directly inspire and influence someone. It's a humbling, rewarding reflection of how hard everyone has been working towards bringing opera into the communities. It's important for that support to continue.
Your husband, tenor Stephen Costello, won a Richard Tucker Award in 2009. What's it like to be married to an opera singer?
When you fall in love, you don't care what that person does for a living, but there are benefits to being married to an opera singer. We’re both on the same page about the importance of music and appreciate that we share these extraordinarily- beautiful moments onstage. The challenge is seeing each other despite busy schedules and then growing in those moments together.
On November 17, you'll sing Mimì in David Gately's La bohème at the FGO. It's your fifth time singing the role professionally. Do you identify with the character?
Mimì's one of the few roles that immediately makes sense from the moment I start singing. It's an easy fit with my personality. She's complex. She’s strong, independent and she can make it on her own, but she's also got a simplicity and fragility that I can relate to. As I mature, the role continues to evolve.
Who are your Latina/Latino role models?
My earliest influences were singers like Rocío Dúrcal, Juan Gabriel and Gloria Estafan. And actresses, too: I remember when Hollywood finally celebrated beautiful Latina women after Salma Hayek was in Desperado. Now there’s Rosario Dawson and Sofia Vergara. But as I studied opera, I discovered singers like Montserrat Caballé and Plácido Domingo. When I sang in 2008 at the Salzburg Festival in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette opposite lead Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, he lifted me in the air and shouted "Viva México!" after our first show!