On the night of May 4, CulturArte's El Concertone transforms the stage of Antonio Paoli Festival Hall (Sala Antonio Paoli) at Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center (Centro de Bellas Artes Luis A. Ferré) in the Santurce sector of San Juan into a showcase of what can be considered opera's greatest hits. Performed by a roster of both local and visiting operatic luminaries, the event will be headed by the genre's current superstar, Jonas Kaufmann.
Two top voices, well-known by opera lovers, will flank Kaufmann with their own debut in Puerto Rico that evening, soprano Eva-María Westbroek and mezzosoprano Anita Rachvelishvili, as well as Puerto Rico's baritone Jorge Lagunes.
From "Tosca" to "Wether" to "Carmen" and "Adriana Lecouvreur," it promises to be a night whose magic will carry on well after the curtain falls. This great evening of song will benefit Dr. Josefina Camacho de la Nuez Museum & Humanistic Studies Center at University of El Turabo (Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos Dra. Josefina Camacho de la Nuez at Universidad del Turabo) in Caguas.
Review after review considers Kauffmann the top tenor in the current opera scene, and the most lauded performer at the Metropolitan Opera House of New York. While tenor refers to the highest adult male singing voice in the genre, Kaufmann is also recognized as a spinto tenor, which means his voice can be both lyrical and romantic, as the role demands. While Kaufmann's website said his family led "fairly conventional lives in a rented apartment on the fifth floor of what was then one of many high-rise buildings," he credits his family for what he termed his profound love of classical music.
From playing classical roles, such a Desdemona in Giuseppe Verdi's "Othello," to starring as Mark Anthony Turnage in the 2011 opera "Ana Nicole," which is based on the life of doomed model and media star Ana Nicole Smith, Netherlandsborn soprano Westbroek is praised by critics for the extraordinary and fine spirit of her voice. At just 25 years of age, it suffices to say that the mezzo-soprano Rachvelishvili, who was born in Georgia (as in the country, not the U.S. state), debuted on stage at La Scala de Milano, in Milan, as Carmen, the main character in Georges Bizet's "Carmen," under the director of maestro Daniel Barenboim, to mark the opening of the 2009-2010 opera season.
As for Lagunes, in 2006, he received the Plácido Domingo Award, created by the maestro whose name it bears, as recognition of his outstanding career as a Hispanic (Latino) artist. That same year, Lagunes made his debut at London's Covent Garden. In 2007, he graced the local stage as the main baritone in the opera "Andrea Chenier" with CulturArte de Puerto Rico.
These invited stars will shine along with the constellation of local talents, such as Coro de Gala, led by Carmen Acevedo Lucio, and the Puerto Rico Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of maestro Maximiano Valdés.
Founded by entrepreneur and arts patron Guillermo Martínez, CulturArte de Puerto Rico is a nonprofit organization that has championed classical music and opera since 1986.