Obituary: Enrique del Portal Dies at 87

By Francisco Salazar

Renowned tenor Enrique del Portal has died at the age of 87.

The tenor, who was one of the most important proponents of Zarzuela, died after suffering a fall that had him in bed-rest. Unfortunately, del Portal could not get the right medical attention due to the healthcare collapse as result of the coronavirus outbreak in Spain.

Del Portal was born in Madrid on July 3, 1932. He went on to study at the Real Conservatorio de Madrid and made his debut in 1959 at the  Teatro Fuencarral de Madrid. In 1962, he would make his debut at the Teatro de la Zarzuela and would perform in popular Zarzuelas such as “Marina,” “El caserío,” and “La tabernera del puerto.”

He went on to perform at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao, Teatro Pérez Galdós de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Teatro Guimerá de Tenerife, Palacio Euskalduna, Teatro Villamarta de Jerez, Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria and Veranos de la Villa, among many other important Spanish theaters.

Del Portal also performed in Latin America, where he often toured appearing in 1967, 1968, and 1984.

He worked alongside a number of notable artists including Pepita Embil, José Carreras, and Alfredo Kraus.

In 1985 the Ministerio de Cultura Español gave him the distinguished title of “Profesor superior de Canto” for his achievement in classical singing. He also received the Hijo adoptivo de Segovia and the lyric trophy of  “Amigos de la Zarzuela” in Valladolid.

In 1992, Del Portal started working as a comedy actor and between 1995 and 1996, under the direction of José Luis Moreno, he worked at the Teatro Calderón in Madrid.

Del Portal left a dozen Zarzuela recordings with the label RTVE including “La Dolorossa,” “Luisa Fernanda,” and Doña Francisquita.

Among the works he performed constantly were “Luisa Fernanda,” “La Vida breve,” “La del soto del parral,” “Don Gil de Alcalá,” “Doña Francisquita,” “La revoltosa,” “El bateo,” “La verbena de La Paloma,” and “Chorizos y polacos.”