Francisco Araiza, born on Oct. 4, 1950, is one of the greatest Mexican tenors of all time. He pioneered a path for many singers from Latin America, including such stars as Ramón Vargas and Javier Camarena.
He had a tremendously diverse repertoire, stretching from Mozart and Rossini, all the way to Wagner, from whom he took on lead roles in “Der Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and “Lohengrin.” Of course, that also means that he took on a number of rare operas and recorded them. Here is a look at some of the rare operas that the great tenor left in his recorded legacy.
Catalani’s opera hasn’t really found a foothold in the modern repertory, though it has gotten the occasional recording or performance from a number of top singers. Araiza, in the role of Giuseppe Hagenback, recorded the work alongside conductor Pinchas Steinberg and the Munich Radio Orchestra. Eurodisc released the set.
In 1981, the tenor recorded the rare Massenet opera alongside Agnes Balsta and George Fortune. Orfeo released the recording, which was conducted by Gerd Albrecht, leading the Coro e Orchestra sinfonica di Roma della RAI.
Il Viaggio a Reims
Ever the Rossini tenor, Araiza was part of the massive star cast assembled for Claudio Abbado’s recording of the Rossini comedy. Also on that recording? Katia Ricciarelli, Lucia Valentini Terrani, Leo Nucci, Samuel Ramey, Enzo Dara, and Ruggero Raimondi.
I will be honest. I don’t particularly like “Alzira” and of all of Verdi’s operas, I think it might be the weakest, bar none. But for whatever reason, the tenor valued it enough to record it alongside Ileana Cortrubas and Renato Bruson under Lamberto Gardelli. The opera was also released under Orfeo.
Another Italian opera that gets the occasional performance from a major star (think Maria Callas and Franco Corelli), Araiza recorded this one alongside Rosalind Plowright for Orfeo. Gustav Kuhn conducted the Munich Radio Orchestra.