Q & A: Baritone Fabián Veloz on his Lyric Opera of Chicago Debut, Scarpia & His Fondest Memory at the Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires

By David Salazar

Argentinean baritone Fabián Veloz is one of the most renowned opera artists in his country.

His professional debut came in the South American premiere of “Estaba la Madre” at the Teatro Argentino in La Plata and he has gone on to perform with some of the major companies in the South American company including the Teatro Avenida, the Teatro Argentino, and, of course, the Teatro Colón where he has been a fixture since his debut as Germont in “La Traviata.”

But he didn’t stop there and Veloz’s career has seen him take the world by storm, appearing at major opera houses in Naples, Mexico City, Madrid, Santiago, Atlanta, Rome Bologna, and Beijing, among other venues.

Now he is in the midst of his debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, taking on the role of Scarpia in “Tosca,” a role he has performed all over the world and is slated to return to later this year in Santiago and at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

OperaWire had a chance to speak to the baritone about arguably his biggest North American debut to date, taking on the villainous role of Scarpia, and his fondest memory at the Teatro Colón.

OperaWire: Congratulations on your Lyric Opera of Chicago debut. How does it feel to be making this debut:

Fabián Veloz: I am truly excited to be making my debut with such an important company and in this historic theater. Working here has been a great pleasure with great singers and a team of professionals who are part of the Lyric Opera. It’s the first time that I work with Michelle Bradley and Russell Thomas (Tosca and Cavaradossi) and from the first moment, I was very comfortable with them. I felt the same with Louisa (Regie) there was very authentic feedback.

OW: You will be performing the role of Scarpia in “Tosca.” Who is Scarpia for you? What makes him a compelling character?

FV:  Scarpia is a policeman, a torturer and a master manipulator and he has a special fascination for Tosca. What makes him a compelling character is his veneer of nobility, his sarcasm, but above all his power.

OW: How has this particular production shaped your interpretation?

FV: This production helped me understand the gentlemanly side of Scarpia. Why my vision of the chief of police was more animal, more aggressive, though Louisa helped me discover that at times the “Baron” is a gentleman especially when he feels that he can’t take Tosca by force.

OW: What are the most challenging aspects of interpreting Scarpia? How do you connect with a villain like him?

FV: The challenge of Scarpia is not playing the obvious. When I enter the stage it’s easy for people to just see the bad guy but I’m trying to create a believable character. In the beginning, it was easy to bring out the force and the power in the character

But this production helped me understand the gentlemanly side of Scarpia. Yes, absolutely one is maturing the role as well as the interpretation.

OW: What are the vocal challenges of taking on this character?

FV: You must always have control of the voice – It’s a difficult and heavy role and it would be very easy to shout it and hopefully avoid doing so.

OW: Do you have a favorite musical moment?

FV: My favorite moment is in Act two when Scarpia confesses his love, even in his own way. It’s for me the only place where he says what he feels. Previously, he says “Quest’ora Io L’attendeva” ( I was waiting this moment….for a long long time ago) and then he sings “I’m in love with you… I saw you like I’ve never seen you before… But when I saw with your lover I swore you would be mine…” This moment is ecstasy for me.

OW: How does Puccini’s music feel for your voice in comparison to other composers you sing, such as Verdi, Bizet, or Mozart?

FV: The big difference between this Puccini (Tosca) and the others is that this role is very close to the verismo style. The text must be said in an unromantic way even when the melodic line says something else.

OW: How did you know that you wanted to be an opera singer and embark on this career as an artist?

FV: I’ve always loved to sing and to make music but I knew nothing about opera until I started taking vocal lessons for fun while I was running my own business and it surprised me as many people, recognizing my talent wanted to help me move my career forward and I was able to enter an opera company and grow within it taking on bigger and more demanding roles while refining the craft. I am also very lucky to have the support of my family and my wife Gabriela and to be able to make a living from what I love to do – sing opera.

OW: In the fall you will perform in both Chile and Buenos Aires. What is your relationship to the Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires? What are some of your best memories there?

FV: The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires is like my home. I have built my career in the theater. I sang many very important roles and I always had the guidance of the great Maestros at the Teatro Colón.  One of my fondest memories was when I opened the 2019 season as Rigoletto. Personally on the day of the premiere, a month after my father’s death, I think that moment was amazing. I didn’t think I was going to finish the show but I always remember that he was proud of what I did and that’s why he helped me sing until the end.

The end of that performance was such a mix of joy and sadness that I spent the whole performance containing my tears and by the end, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Fortunately, I had my family there with me and I remember us hugging each other and thinking that my father, wherever he was, was with me that night.

OW: Looking forward in your career, what is one opera role that you wish to perform that you have yet to take on? Why?

FV: There are many roles that I would like to sing but one of my favorites is Simon Boccanegra. The nobility of the musical line and the humanity of the character of the father reuniting with his lost daughter and the majesty of the role of supreme Verdian style.


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