Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.

Sound Bites: David Lomelí

by F. PAUL DRISCOLL

Sound Bites David Lomelí HDL 112
Photographed in New York by Dario Acosta
Grooming by Affan Malik
© Dario Acosta 2012
Sound Bites Lomelí sm 112
© Dario Acosta 2012

David Lomelí, who makes his Houston Grand Opera debut this month as Alfredo in La Traviata, once auditioned for the company's young-artist program — and didn't get in. "They were very nice, very encouraging, but the people in Houston said that I was good, but not that good. And they were correct. I was just out of university, and at that time I was flying with a lot of intuition and raw talent. I needed more serious study." Lomelí, who took voice lessons and performed some opera while completing his computer-science engineering degree at Mexico's University of Monterrey, began the serious study he needed at the Sociedad Internacional de Valores de Arte Mexicano (SIVAM), Mexico's most prestigious young-artist program. Lomelí received an enormous career boost in 2006, when Plácido Domingo offered the twenty-four-year-old tenor a berth in the young-artist program at Los Angeles Opera, plus a chance to compete in the upcoming Operalia. Lomelí won first place in the general competition, as well as the zarzuela prize. "That Operalia was my first competition, and my winning [it] kind of validated my move across the river, if you know what I mean. I knew then that I could do this, but I also knew that I was not done with my work. It seems now as if what followed was always supposed to happen, but as Steve Jobs said, 'You can only connect the dots backwards.'" 

During his two seasons in the Los Angeles program, Lomelí sang relatively few performances — a situation that changed when he moved on to the Merola Program and an Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera. There, his assignments included Rinuccio in SFO's 2009 Gianni Schicchi, an ideal role for his honeyed tenor and beguilingly ardent phrasing. Lomelí made another big hit the following season, in New York City Opera's revival of L'Elisir d'Amore; his Nemorino —endearingly shy but capable of beautifully poised high notes — stole the notices and grabbed the attention of opera fans. Since then, Lomelí has arrived at Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera Company and Opéra de Lille. He has upcoming debuts set for Glyndebourne and the Hollywood Bowl.

Lomelí feels that the lyric-tenor repertory — especially the operas of Donizetti — is where his voice belongs, and he looks forward to singing Percy in Anna Bolena and Leicester in Maria Stuarda. "My dream roles now are Benvenuto Cellini and [Arnold in] Guillaume Tell. I hope I can be there in the next five, ten years. I can sing a full Rigoletto now — with no cuts, taking all the optional high notes — and I'm fresh to sing the next day and still have stamina and energy after it. But when I sing toward the heavier part of my repertoire, it takes a toll on my body — it tells me to be careful. I need to save these big things like Werther for later. For the next couple, five, ten years, I want to keep it healthy and high." spacer

F. PAUL DRISCOLL

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Current Issue: September 2014 — VOL. 79, NO. 3