How Joel Prieto became Don Ottavio: Part I
published in: Opera, General
|Joel Prieto, Photo: Felix Broede|
My history with the Festival starts in 2008 when I was part of the first Young Singers Project. That was a very important summer for my development and my relationship with the Festival. That year it was run by two amazing artists, Barbara Bonney and Michael Schade. Being able to share those months with such a talented group of singers was incredible and it was a turning point for my career and musical vision.
I always dreamt of singing the tenor part in a Mozart opera at the Salzburg Festival and that dream came through when I got an invitation to sing the part of Don Ottavio in Claus Guth’s Don Giovanni in the summer of 2010.
It was crazy because it was my first Don Ottavio and at the same time my debut at the Festival at the age of 28. I arrived the first day of rehearsals thinking, Wow … I’m here! A dream I had since I first heard a recording of Fritz Wunderlich singing Tamino’s aria when I was 19 years old studying in NYC. The rehearsal process was phenomenal. As part of the Young Singers Project I had the opportunity to see some of the rehearsals of this production and who could have known that two years after I would be part of the revival and sharing the stage with Erwin Schrott and Dorothea Röschmann. I was like a sponge learning the staging, super alert and ready to do it. It took me a few weeks to get used to the forest … in the process I fell a couple of times and I got lost a few others … I was supposed to sing the last three performances at the end of the run but life has some strange turns and the tenor who was supposed to sing the first four performances got sick. So the day before the first show I got a phone call from the Artistic Administration saying that I was doing the premiere, so I immediately called my parents and got them on the first airplane from Puerto Rico to Salzburg in order to be just on time for the premiere. I had a mixture of nerves and complete enthusiasm! When I heard the Wiener Philharmoniker playing the overture I had a surreal feeling because there I was, at the Haus für Mozart about to sing my first Don Ottavio, feeling the thrill of knowing the history of all those great singers that have been on that stage before me. It was an amazing night I will never forget.