Artist Profile: Francisco Araiza, One of Mexico’s Greatest Tenors

By David Salazar

Many Mexican tenors have managed successful careers in recent years. Francisco Araiza was among the most influential.

Born in Mexico City on Oct. 4, 1950, Araiza was the song of a tenor and seemed well on his way to an early music education. He studied voice while studying business administration and made the switch completely under the encouragement of soprano Irma Gonzalez, who heard him in a recital. She would be his main teacher during his conservatory days.

His stage debut came in 1970 when he appeared in a performance of “Fidelio” at the Compañía Nacional de Opera de Bellas Artes. After earning third prize at the ARD International Music Competition, he was offered a contract at the Karlsruhe Opera, where he furthered his training. He became a life member of the Zurich Opera in 1977, then debuted at Bayreuth in 1978. He then started appearing in Vienna, London, San Francisco, and New York. His Met Opera debut came in 1984. He would appear at such venues as La Scala, the Bavarian State Opera, the Opéra de Paris, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, La Fenice, and the Salzburg Festival.

In 1988, the Vienna State Opera made him a Kammersänger and in 1991 he was given the Mozart Medal.

After retiring from the stage he moved on into teaching.

Signature Roles

The tenor was one of the great Mozart interpreters of his time, most of his major debuts coming in the works of the great composer. He debuted at the Met as Belmonte in “Die Entführung aus dem Serail;” 14 of his 55 performances at the Met were in a Mozart opera. He did perform heavier roles in his repertoire as his career progressed, by many of his famed recordings are in Mozart’s operas.

Read More on Araiza

Five Rare Operas he recorded

Watch and Listen

Here are a few Mozart arias to see his mastery of the composer’s work.

Here is a video of the tenor giving a masterclass, which allows us insight into his thoughts on singing and how he teaches it.


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