BWW Blog: Baritone James Rodriguez on Opera in the Heights' CONCIERTOH! DE INVIERNO

Above: Baritone James Rodriguez as Tonio
in Oh's production of I PAGLIACCI last season.
This December he'll perform
for Oh's Spanish language holiday concert,
Photo by Deji Osinulu Photography

Opera in the Heights continues to celebrate its 20th anniversary season with CONCIERTOH! DE INVIERNO, a Spanish language and music holiday concert. The concert features Oh! favorites Claudia Chapa, Octavio Moreno, and James Rodriguez along with special guest appearances by Arnold Yzaguirre, Brian Suits, and Patrick Contreras.

Baritone James Rodriguez gives us a look into his musical background and how it influences his performance in CONCIERTOH! DE INVIERNO.

Every summer for the last five years, I have presented a recital of songs and arias back home in Fort Worth. Much of this audience is made up of family and friends from all over Central and South America. It was only last year (at the request of one of my mother's friends) that I sang my first group of Mexican folksongs arranged by Edward Kilenyi. The audience loved them.

I have to be honest; my experience with performing music in Spanish has been primarily through the operatic works of the late Mexican composer, Daniel Catán. I have explored very little in the way of art song or zarzuela; therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted by Opera in the Heights to sing on their holiday concert, which will feature songs, boleros, zarzuelas, and Christmas music all sung in Spanish. This was the perfect opportunity to finally explore music written in my native language.

After various meetings, repertoire was selected and my solo selec tions include three Kilenyi folksongs ("Mi sueño," "Noche serena," and "Pregúntale á las estrellas") and "Amor, vida de mi vida" from the zarzuela, Maravilla by Federico Moreno Torroba. This aria was introduced to me this summer and has quickly become one of my favorites because it is a showstopper for the baritone voice! Other ensemble numbers include "Blanca Navidad" and "Navidad y Año Nuevo."

The holiday season is an opportunity to hear great classics such as Messiah and Nutcracker; however, I hope Houstonians will take time out of their busy schedules and stop by Lambert Hall in the Heights during the weekend of December 11 to hear CONCIERTOH! DE INVIERNO. You won't be disappointed!

[Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that James Rodriguez would perform the bolero selection "El Desdichado" by French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns, with mezzo-soprano, Claudia Chapa. The duet has been removed from the program.]

CONCIERTOH! DE INVIERNO. December 11-13, 7 pm. Opera in the Heights, Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd. $15. operaintheheights

Photo courtesy of Opera in the Heights

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