Monday, September 25, 2023 Sep 25, 2023
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Garland Singer Debuts At Carnegie Hall

By Vera Giannini |

Suppose you were a young opera singer with a golden voice and acting talent to match. Wouldn’t you plunge into the romantic, lyric repertoire and aim to be a superstar?

Cesar Ulloa. who has all these gifts and good looks as well, decided otherwise. He loves beautiful arias,of course. but to him the challenge of creating a character is much more exciting. And when he now goes to audition, say. for Madame Butterfly. it is not the role of Pinkerton he is seeking-as almost everyone assumes-but that of Goro, the nasty marriage broker. And playing the heavy doesn’t bother his ego in the least.

On February 21, Ulloa, a resident of Garland and graduate of SMU, will make his Carnegie Hall debut in a concert performance of Meyerbeer’s Robert he Diable with the Opera Orchestra of New York under the direction of Eve Queler. His roles are small, but he’ll be in excellent company. One of the principals, for instance, is bass Samuel Ramey.

It is also an honor, for Queler does not often use young singers in her Carnegie Hall concerts. She usually gives them a chance to sing with her orchestra elsewhere in the New York area. In a forthcoming performance of Giordano’s Andrea Chenier in March, Ulloa will cover the role of the L’Abate,but sing it in Long Island.

The choice oetween a leading tenor’s career and that of a com-primario (an operatic second banana) was not easy for Ulloa, a gifted young tenor whose mentors insist that he is “career caliber”-a natural, in other words, to develop into a leading tenor. Ulloa was “fighting this for years.” he recalls, ever since he first set foot on the stage of Dallas Opera where it all started. At a fairly early stage of his career, at the Virginia Opera and other regional theaters, he sang leading roles. Then he heard character tenor Piero De Palma and saw how an artist can create masterworks out of the smallest role. Watching other artists, like the Met’s Andrea Velis, made him realize that there was such a thing as a star comprimario, and he decided that this was what he wanted to be.

Ulloa would like to tackle the German repertoire. At present he is struggling with the German language, not an easy task for someone whose mother tongue is Spanish. Born in Havana, Cuba, Ulloa was a small boy when his family came to the United States and settled in Garland. It was here that he grew up. went to college-at Southern Methodist University-and first sang opera in the chorus. And even though he now lives in New York, his ties to Dallas are very strong. An especially powerful magnet is ten-year-old Tara Elena, his daughter from a previous marriage, who seems to be quite musical and loves opera very much.