Ramón Vargas is one of the great artists of the past few decades. Born on Sept. 11, 1960, the tenor has managed an international career in a wide range of repertoire from the great Bel Canto roles through some more dramatic territory in recent years.
Hailing from México City, the tenor started singing at age nine and would go on to study at the Cardenal Miranda Institute in his hometown city. The rest, as they say, is history.
What makes Vargas’ history unique is that he traversed some interesting paths along his way to international fame. Here are some fun facts that you didn’t know about Ramón Vargas’ career.
First Ever Gig
You’ve heard him dominate the great works of Verdi, Donizetti, Bellini, and Rossini over the years. So naturally, one might expect that that was where his career started. Right? Wrong! His first-ever performance was in Haydn’s “Lo Speziale,” an opera few have heard of in recent years.
After winning competitions in Europe and finishing up his training in Europe, one would expect that Vargas’ international debut would come in one of the famed houses on the great continent. But as it turns out, his international debut actually came in 1992 when he sang in “Lucia di Lammermoor,” subbing for none other than Luciano Pavarotti.
While he has performed a whopping 12 Verdi roles throughout his career (including such rarities as “Alzira,” “Atilla,” “I due Foscari,” and “I Lombardi”) Vargas is actually the king of Rossini, taking on a whopping 13 roles from the famed composer throughout his career. Few tenors before or since (with the exception of Juan Diego Flórez) have managed to perform so much of the Pesaro composer’s oeuvre.
As noted, he’s performed quite the Rossini repertoire, of which only two or three operas remain fixed in the repertoire. But he has also championed works by other less known composers including Antonio Salieri, Simon Mayr, Haydn, and Domenico Cimarosa.
While his operatic career has always given Vargas great success, he suffered tremendous personal tragedy in 1993 when his first son Eduardo suffered an irreversible brain injury due to the negligence of Italian doctors. Despite attempts to find help elsewhere, his child could not be saved and passed away in early 2000. Since then the tenor and his wife set up the Eduardo Vargas Memorial Fund with the hopes of helping those in need, particularly in Mexico.