Hispanic Heritage Month 2017 – Part 4: 12 Composers With Impact in the Opera World

By David Salazar

It is Hispanic Heritage month!

The Latin American community has, particularly in recent years, been a major boon to the opera world, providing it with great singers and composers. This week, as part of a weekly series to celebrate the Hispanic culture and its influence on the opera world, we will turn to the great opera composers from Latin America.

Isaac Albéniz – Spain

The Spanish master created three different operas throughout his career, including “Henry Clifford,” “Merlin,” and “Pepita Jiménez.” Unfortunately, he never quite established a firm foothold in the operatic canon.

Daniel Catán – Argentina

One of the great composers of the 20th century, the Mexican artist wrote six complete operas throughout his career, including “Florencia en el Amazonas” and “Il Postino.” His work is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance in light of his death in 2011.

Manuel De Falla – Spain

The great Spanish composer didn’t create all that many operas, though his work “La Vida Breve” gets periodic revivals. He also created “El retablo de maese Pedro” and “Atlántida.”

Alberto Ginastera – Argentina

Ginastera’s most famous work is “Bomarzo,” which he wrote in the mid 1960s, but he also composed “Don Rodrigo” and “Beatrix Cenci.”

Osvaldo Golijov – Argentina

The Argentine composer recently made waves with his first opera “Ainadamar,” which put a spotlight on Federica García Lorca. In the work, the historic figure is portrayed by a female singer, and works on a wide range of major themes including artistic expression, homosexuality, and murder.

Antônio Carlos Gomes – Brazil

The Brazilian composer is the first New World master to have success in Europe. A contemporary of Verdi and slightly older than Puccini, his operas were wildly performed in Italy, particularly “Il Guarany,” which remains his most popular opera to date. He completed 11 operas throughout his career.

Enrique Granados – Spain

Another Spanish composer, though unlike some of the others on this list, this one has managed to create an opera of repute. “Goyescas” is not necessarily a staple of the canon, but sections of it are well-known and the opera had an auspicious beginning, premiering at the Metropolitan Opera.

Jimmy Lopez – Peru

The Peruvian composer is one on the rise in the modern music world. He recently created the opera “Bel Canto” which opened to great acclaim in Chicago. It was his first opera but hinted at solid potential on the stage.

Jose “Pepe” Martinez

Piazzola gave us the first-ever tango opera (more below) and this Mexican composer is the man behind “Cruzar la cara de la luna,” the world’s first mariachi opera.

Astór Piazzola

The Argentine master’s “Maria de Buenos Aires” is undergoing somewhat of a surge these days, getting performances all around the world.

Heitor Villas-Lobos – Brazil

The Brazilian composer wrote one operetta and one opera, “Yerma.” The work is based on the tragedy by Federico García Lorca and was staged for the first time in Brazil, 12 years after the composer’s death.

Manuel de Zumaya – Mexico

The Mexican composer is widely considered the first composer of opera in Latin America, his baroque style showcased in the now-lost “Partenope.”

Are there any other major hispanic composers that you wished we would have included? Let us know in the comments below. 




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