Arturo Chacón Opens Up About Life As A Tenor, Friendship With Plácido Domingo, More [INTERVIEW]

Arturo Chacon
From Mariachi singer to one of the most important and inspiring Opera singers of our era, Arturo Chacón, invites you to open your senses, leave behind the stereotypes, and appreciate the magic behind Opera music. Getty

Rated by the Opera King, Plácido Domingo, as "one of the great tenors of today," Arturo Chacón is definitely one of the most outstanding Mexican tenors worldwide. In his long list of activities has the joy of having sung in more than 20 countries in opera houses and concert halls such as La Scala in Milan, Carnegie Hall, Royal Festival Hall in London, Teatro Real in Madrid, La Fenice of Venice, in addition to Vienna, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo and Shanghai, to name a few.

One of his most important and inspiring achievements was the concert he gave with with Plácido Domingo for the Kings of Spain at the Palacio del Prado in Madrid, in 2008. In May 2016 he played the character of Alfredo in "La Traviata" at the Teatro de la Opera in Rome, directed by Sofia Coppola with costumes designed by Valentino.

Currently, Arturo is protected by Plácido Domingo with whom he has performed several concerts and operas. In July 2017 they performed again at the Arena in Verona and in January 2018, they will have a concert in Budapest.  

With other genres taking center stage in the music industry and theater, it is important to explore other areas of art such as the Opera and use all our senses to know how a person can begin to appreciate a Tenor. "Leaving aside for a moment the stereotypes that Hollywood and Bugs Bunny have presented us - which are super nice, but not at all accurate- the Opera is a genre full of life, humanity, and feeling," said the great Operatic Tenor Arturo Chacón to Latin Times. "It can awaken repressed memories, make you cry, laugh, and even help you think in a different way. When the opera caught me, I was a Mariachi singer and had many prejudices in my mind. I was convinced that I didn’t like Opera, until I heard it with an open heart and changed my life."

Chacón brings with him valuable memories ranging from his first concert to awards that celebrate his great career, as well as the first time that his son heard him sing on stage. "I have many beautiful memories, from my first appearance in Fine Arts, or Carnegie Hall, or La Scala in Milan; also when my parents first heard me in an Opera as a protagonist," the Tenor recalls.

"I remember the moment when I received the Plácido Domingo Prize in the Operalia contest, when I sang with the great Mr. Domingo in my land, Sonora. I couldn’t decide which is the most valuable, but ... there is a very special one, and that is when in Rome, my son listened me for the first time from the audience (in La Traviata) and I saw his eyes full of illusion when he went to my dressing room and said ‘Dad! You were the one who was singing up there,’ it's a memory that when I'm in bad mood gives me a smile."

The voice of an opera singer is like an invaluable jewel, and therefore the care regime to maintain the health of the vocal cords of a singer like Chacon entails a daily vocalization routine of 20 to 45 minutes, to keep the voice active and fresh. "Something that is not talked about a lot is that you have to be very careful with the characters you portray. Each role and each composer have different challenges and difficulties," warns the Mexican singer.

"It is necessary to choose the roles that will not cause vocal damage. For example, for the roles of Don Carlo (Verdi), and Cavaradossi (Puccini) that I will debut soon, I waited more than 15 years to sing them, because in my 20s it would have been very risky to sing such a demanding repertoire, without the physical maturity and technique that only the years can offer you. "

Not only the voice should be taken care of, but according to the artist the physical condition and the food should be taken into consideration as well. "In addition to the repertoire, I must take care of my diet, to avoid reflux, which directly affects the instrument; I exercise regularly to stay strong and active on stage. I avoid sudden changes in temperature and wash my hands regularly to avoid catching a cold, drink a lot of water, etc.," he says.

Recently, singer Plácido Domingo celebrated its 50th anniversary in music and Chacón had the privilege of being part of this great celebration. "I feel very honored and grateful to have been invited to this celebration. Not only because of the prestige that singing represents, but because of the great love and admiration that I have for Master Domingo and for all he has done for me," says the Tenor to Latin Times. "I am happy to have this opportunity to sing with him and to celebrate together his 'Golden Jubilee' in Los Angeles."

An Opera singer is a complete artist, singing while acting is important. "I like to give a balance that allows the viewer to have an experience of realism. Give everything, sing each word without the intention of leaving anything in your pocket, also act each scene as if it were happening to me, without even remembering that I am an actor,” says Arturo. "There are small moments in each opera where the difficulty requires thinking technically and using acting resources to take it forward, but there are 'seconds' in which you have to use the experience, without leaving the whole character and taking care not to falter."

Arturo has been awarded several times with prizes of great importance, but he assures that he doesn't crave anything in particular. "I never had any aspirations for awards or prizes. They have arrived and I receive them with great enthusiasm. The only wish I have is to reach my senior years singing with health, integrity and feet well planted on the ground," he says. “Perhaps, a desired prize would be to celebrate '50 years of artistic career,' like my mentor and admired guide, Plácido Domingo."

Several artists of alternative music and other genres have complained about the featuring between ballad singers and the urban genre. Latin Times asked the Tenor if it is possible to merge the opera with other musical genres or if he considers that it could hurt the art.

"Of Course! We have to use all the resources within our reach," says Arturo enthusiastically. "There are musical genres that reach a lot of people and can be combined perfectly with the opera song. There is good music and bad music in all genres. Not because it is opera or mainstream, by default it is good or bad. The important thing is to listen with the heart and allow you to feel. My Mariachi album is almost ready and I also plan to share the stage with singers of other genres. I love the opportunity to reach an audience that regularly does not listen to my music and present them with one more option."

Many will think that an opera singer only listens to Opera, but this great Hispanic pride also enjoys other genres. "In my spare time I listen to a bit of everything, from choral music, Spanish guitar, tangos, Mexican music, rock of the 80s, 90s, Latin pop and international pop," reveals the singer. "I have favorite artists in the classic, as Maria Callas and Jussi Bjorling, but in the popular, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Eagles, Alejandro Sanz, José José, Michael Jackson, among others."

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Shirley Gomez has been exposed to many aspects of the art world. Besides being a Fashion Journalist, she studied Fashion Styling and Fashion Styling for Men at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Interior Design at UNIBE and Fashion Design at ITSMJ Fashion School in the Dominican Republic. She worked as a Fashion Journalist, Fashion Stylist and Social Media Manager at one of the most recognized magazines in the Dominican Republic, Oh! Magazine, as an occasional Entertainment Journalist, of the prestigious newspaper “Listín Diario”, as well as a fashion collaborator of a radio show aired in 100.9 FM SuperQ. When Shirley is not writing you can find her listening Demi Lovato or Beyonce's songs, decorating her apartment or watching Family Feud.