Humble lakeside hamlet Riberas de Pilar will be graced by the presence — and golden voice, of one of Mexico’s most promising talents — tenor Ricardo Calderon.
He, together with pianist and Zapopan Municipal Choir director Timothy G. Ruff Welch, will perform “Con Amores … A España,” part of the “Bravissimo” concert series at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Sunday, March 18, 4 p.m.
The program is a tribute to all things Spanish, with a set list that will mix the operatic form of Zarzuela with compositions by known quantities such as Manuel de Falla. The stated purpose is to “revive Spanish music in the city of Guadalajara, to rescue the great tradition of Zarzuela which existed in Mexico for many years.”
For the uninitiated, Zarzuela is a Spanish tradition of music and dance that, while similar to opera, is heavily steeped in Iberian culture and is influenced by flamenco (or is it the other way around?). According to Calderon, the form is especially well-known in Guadalajara, where the Zarzuela-performing parents of operatic superstar Placid Domingo often plied their trade over a half-century ago.
Calderon, a Guadalajara native, was born for music.
“It was very important for me as long as I can remember,” said Calderon. “My mom used to tell me that, when I was a baby, whenever I listened to music I would always sing along.”
A precocious talent, Calderon started singing from an early age in various local choirs, including the San Luis Gonzaga Youth Choir. While he never attended a music school, he has studied under the tutelage of a series of private teachers.
Eventually, the singer chose prudence over art and embarked on a career in finance. He worked at Hewlitt Packard in Guadalajara until 2014, when he decided to quit and dedicate himself to developing his vocal gift in Mexico City.
When asked after his preferred repertoire, the conversation came swiftly back to Zarzuela.
“It’s my favorite music,” said Calderon. “It’s very Latin and my voice is just suited to it, somehow.”
He paused and added, “But if had to choose one composer, it’d be Mozart. In fact, I’ll be performing ‘Cosi Fan Tutti’ in Rome next June.”
The lakeside concert won’t be the first time Calderon has played with pianist Welch; they performed a suite of works by U.S. composers at Saint Andrew’s last November. This will be the first time they have played Spanish music together, although Calderon has performed the program – which in addition to Zarzuela features Spanish art songs by a number of noted Spanish composers – four other times with different pianists.
Calderon has his sights set not only on Rome, but on Germany and the United States as well; the singer is looking to audition for various international opera companies, including the New York City Opera. To this end, he is currently studying with Enrique Patron Rueda, who the singer considers “the best conductor in Mexico.”
“I don’t have an international agent yet, though. That’s a goal,” said Calderon.