Mexican opera singer Luis Chapa soon debuts at the Met, but what’s more meaningful is yet another engagement: in Mexico City at a venue that has so far eluded the tenor.
Chapa debuts on the Bellas Artes stage in October, where he will present “Stiffelio.”
Only a few years ago the name Luis Chapa was practically unknown in Mexico. But he still maintained a busy career touring globally, and known within the opera community as someone with the rare talent for both lyrical and dramatic roles.
Little by little, Mexico became aware of Chapa. After successes in London, Hong Kong and the United States, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, one of the most important theaters in the world, announced that Chapa would star in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.”
Praised for his “mellifluous, stupendously-powerful” voice, Chapa studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and is represented by talent management in London.
At the height of his success, he has recently been invited to debut, at last, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes for a semi-staged presentation with soprano María Katzarava.
And to get to the Met in New York City, he had to work for several years as an understudy — all for the privilege of working under the baton of distinguished directors such as James Levine.
For his lead role in Otello, he was nominated finalist for singer of the year by Oprenwelt magazine. He has sung in operas such as “Carmen,” “Turandot,” “Norma,” “Cavalleria Rusticana” and “Pagliacci.”
In addition to his duties on March 13 and 16 at the Met, he has an agenda planned for the next two years in countries such as Poland, Italy and Croatia, and at London’s Covent Garden.
His return to Croatia is a possible role in Wagner’s “Tristán e Isolda.”
“I still have not decided if I’ll do it,” he said. “It took more than a year to study it and I still do not know if my career will go that way or if I have to wait a couple of years because Wagner deserves a lot of respect. You have to be a very good musician but you also have to understand German culture very well. It’s not just about music, it’s about understanding in depth. My self-criticism is so strong that that’s why I only accept things that I can approach from all angles.”
When he was questioned about not looking to work in Mexico, he replied: “Yes, but now I am very happy because I have spoken in recent days with Alonso Escalante, director of the Bellas Artes, and we will do “Stiffelio,” a wonderful opera. … It will be my debut at the Palacio de Bellas Artes; it has finally happened and I am really very happy, that theater for me is the most. I think it excites me more than everything, even the debut I have in the following days (at the Met).”
Chapa grew up and attended university near the Texas border in Monclova, Coahuila. He studied civil engineering and later formed a construction company before abandoning it all for a music career.
He moved to Germany, studied there for a year, and then moved to the U.K., with a music scholarship. After those studies, he moved to London, where opportunities followed a victory in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.