8 Famous Opera Stars Involved in Major Humanitarian Causes

By David Salazar

Rolando Villazon recently announced that he had helped raise over $5,000 in supporting  USA for UNHCR and the aid it is providing for refugees.

Humanitarian efforts in the world of opera are not new and there have been many other major singers like Villazon that have or continue to contribute to great causes. The following is a look at some of the most famous stars that have participated in humanitarian causes that have made the world a better place.

Please note that the following list is hardly exhaustive.

Placido Domingo

Placido Domingo is known for wearing a plethora of hats. As a singer, he has been both baritone and tenor. He has done opera and crossover. As a musician, he has been an opera singer and conductor. In the world of opera at large he has been on stage, in the pit and behind the scenes running a number of companies.

He is also a noted humanitarian, participating and initiating several major efforts. He performed a series of benefit concerts to obtain funds to help victims of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake.  He also performed a Gala Benefit Concert to help rebuild the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The gala collected over $700,000 for the city. Other benefit performances in Cancun and Athens, the former to help low-income people in Mexico and the latter to help with the conflict in Darfur.

He also created Operalia, The World Opera Competition, which supports the growth of talented young singers. The competition has jump-started the career of numerous artists including Joseph Calleja, Giuseppe Filianoti, Rolando Villazon, Joyce Didonato, Sonya Yoncheva and Ana Maria Martinez among others.

Luciano Pavarotti

The Italian tenor’s generosity matched his vocal power. His famed “Pavarotti and Friends” concerts were major showcases that helped raise money for major UN causes including aid for victims of war in Bosnia, Guatemala, Kosovo and Iraq.

Pavarotti also opened a Music Center in Mostar, Bosnia to help artists develop their abilities and create new opportunities.

He also performed benefit concerts to raise money for victims of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia that killed 25,000 people.

He worked alongside Princess Diana to raise money to eliminate land mines worldwide and used his post as the UN’s Messenger of Peace to raise awareness for such issues as HIV/AIDS, poverty and child rights.

Jose Carerras

The final piece in the famed Three Tenors is just as giving as his colleagues. The Spaniard, who suffered from leukemia, founded the José Carreras International Leukemia Foundation in 1988 to help develop research on the disease and help those dealing with the illness. He has presented an annual television gala in Leipzig to help raise funds for the foundation and has succeeded in topping over €71 million since its inception.

Maria Guleghina

The soprano has dedicated a portion of her career to children’s causes, giving charity concerts to raise funds for survivors of the earthquake in Armenia, the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the Beslan school terrorist attack and for street children in Moscow. She is also a participating artist for Music for Life Foundations that aid gifted children with disabilities and special needs. For her efforts she was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for children.

Violeta Urmana

The Lithuanian singer was named Artist for Peace by UNESCO in 2016 to aid in efforts undertaken in Africa, by the organization, especially in projects aimed at training students. She is also donating a portion of her proceeds from concerts to help the training of said students.

Jose Cura

The Argentine-Spanish singer has been involved with Salva Vita Foundation, giving charity concerts. The organization helps those with disabilities in finding their vocation and integrate socially.

Sumi Jo

The Korean singer has long been an advocate for animal rights and is on the honorary board for the Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA), a non-profit organization that supports animal welfare in Korea.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

The baritone, who recently cancelled all upcoming opera performances, has been involved in his annual Hvorostovsky and Friends for Children benefit concerts. Despite retiring from the opera stage, the Russian star has stated that he will continue to appear in concerts and there is no doubt that this project will be among the many he takes on annually.


Special Features