December 02, 2020

A Conversation with Ana María Martínez and David Portillo

A conversation with Ana María Martínez and David Portillo

We are so excited for the premiere of Pasión Latina, hosted by and starring the world-renowned soprano Ana María Martínez, a Lyric favorite for many years, and featuring several prominent alumni and current members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center.

Each piece of music on the program comes from the Spanish-speaking world, and was selected by the performers for its personal importance to them. The result is a dynamic variety of selections, performed with stirring passion.

One of the Ryan Opera Center alumni featured on the program is Mexican-American tenor David Portillo, who completed his tenure in 2010 and has gone on to perform major roles with Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and throughout Europe.

As host of Pasión Latina, Ana María Martínez sat down with David to discuss his musical background and why he chose the music he will be performing. Here's a short excerpt from their conversation together:

Ana María Martínez: “How did music enter your life?”

David Portillo: “My connection to music started way before I was even born. My mom was a music teacher and a missionary to Mexico where she taught music, and my dad was one of her students. And so that’s where they met.”

“I grew up in a household where my two older sisters and I always had to go to piano lessons, voice lessons, whatever my mom was teaching—and a lot of choral music. I eventually sang in choir, all through my childhood into my high school years … That’s when I figured out that I really wanted to sing.”

Ana María Martínez: “Well I share something in common with you—my mother was a singer. She was singing throughout her entire pregnancy with me. So it’s always been a part of me. Tell us about the pieces you’ve chosen for this program and what they mean to you.”

David Portillo: “I have two Argentinian composers, Guastavino, who wrote one of the most beautiful art songs I think out there, ‘La Rosa y el sauce’, that I love to sing.”

“And then on the other side of Argentina you have Carlos Gardel, who is pop sounding for the time—jazz standards of the early twentieth century. I love how both of them are completely different but from the same country around the same time.”

“And then the third song that I’m singing is ‘Sin Tu Amor’ by Miguel Sandoval. He was the pianist for Beniamino Gigli for many years, and they toured around together. You can definitely tell that the piano and the voice are very much written for tenor. It has a lot of pasión.”

The production of Pasión Latina is already underway. Get a peek behind the scenes with these photos from the recording:

We are so grateful to all of our artists who are performing for this concert under the strictest health and safety protocols. Everyone involved in this virtual concert is going to great lengths in order to share this music with us.

We hope you’ll join us for the premiere of Pasión Latina on Sunday, December 13 at 6:00 pm CT on Lyric's YouTube and Facebook channels. Click here to learn more and sign up to receive a reminder about the concert.

Photos: Kyle Flubacker