Obituary: Legendary Tenor Pedro Lavirgen Dies at 92

By Francisco Salazar

On April 2, 2023, Legendary Spanish tenor Pedro Lavirgen died at the age of 92.

The tenor, who was born in Bujalance, Córdoba on July 31, 1930, started his musical journey at the hospital de Hermanos de San Juan de Dios in Córdoba, where he was part of the chorus and at the parish in Bujalance where he also performed as a chorus member and later as a soloist.

He eventually joined the chorus at the Teatro de la Zarzuela and went on to study at the Conservatorio y arte escénico en la Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático. There he met Miguel Barrosa, whom he studied with for many years.

In 1959 he performed in Zaragoza in the opera “Marina” and received raves. From there he went onto sing many zarzuelas and in 1964, he was contracted by José Tamayo for the company Lírica Amadeo Vives.

He would make his operatic debut at the Teatro Bellas Artes in Mexico in “Aida” alongside Antonietta Stella and Robert Merrill. That performance would open opportunities at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, where he performed for 19 seasons, and at the Wiener Staatsoper for 16 seasons, the Royal Opera House, the Teatro alla Scala, and the Metropolitan Opera.

Lavirgen’s repertoire included “Tosca,” “Il Trovatore, “Turandot,” “Otello,” Pagliacci,” “Aida,” “Carmen,” and countless zarzuelas.

At the age of 61, he retired and went on to receive many awards including the Premio Nacional de Teatro, the Medalla de Oro del Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid, the Medalla de Oro del Círculo de la Ópera de México, and the Verdi de Oro de Parma, among others.

Many of opera’s greatest singers have paid homage to the great tenor including Javier Camarena and Ramón Vargas.