Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview with Israel Lozano

Because the Singapore Lyric Opera's new production of Madama Butterfly is opening tomorrow, here's more information about tomorrow's Pinkerton, followed by an exclusive interview with The Mad Scene:

Tenor Israel Lozano, from Madrid, Spain, started his studies with soprano Emelina Lopez and tenor Alfredo Kraus. Studying at the Superior School of Music and Queen's Superior School of Music in Spain, Mr Lozano made his operatic debut at the age of 22 as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the National Symphony Auditorium of Madrid. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera from Peabody Conservatory where he studied with tenor Dr Stanley Cornett. In 2002/04, he completed the Domingo‐Cafritz Young Artist Program and prepared, covered and sang roles at the Washington National Opera under the artistic direction of Plácido Domingo. Mr Lozano has received support from "La Fundación y Protección del Arte" in Spain.

Lozano sang in a televised gala concert with tenor Plácido Domingo in the Isle of Mainau, Germany, after receiving an unprecedented three prizes (Opera, Zarzuela and Audience Prizes) in the Plácido Domingo International Operalia Competition 2003.

His repertoire includes roles in La Traviata, Manon, L’elisir d’Amore, The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, La Bohème and Rigoletto, in addition to roles in Zarzuela, a Spanish form of operetta, and he has sung at the Baltimore Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Carolina, Carnegie Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra, Teatro Real in Madrid, Ludwigsburg Festival in Germany, Sarasota Opera, Teatro Liceu of Barcelona, Theater an der Wien in Vienna and Bangkok Opera.

The Mad Scene: Firstly, what do you love about the opera Madama Butterfly?

Israel Lozano: Hello readers of The Mad Scene, Happy New Year 2013!! Madama Butterfly is a masterpiece that shows what is the real concept of “Opera”. Opera is a combination of many artistic disciplines, but are based in two principals: music and theatre, so theatrical singing combines the beautiful chemistry of a live performance in music and acting. The opera shows a history between two different cultures and brings to the table a lot of judgments, not only for what could happen 100 years ago but also what could happen today.

The Mad Scene: If you are not performing in it, is Madama Butterfly an opera that you would watch?

Israel Lozano:  Puccini’s compositions, including Madama Butterfly, reflects a realistic history between two cultures, with their own traditions and cultural influences. Puccini’s music is so descriptive that just by listening to the orchestra and knowing the libretto, you could see the play in your mind. Throughout time, people like to have love affairs with another person and avoid the consequences. In this period, a man who is engaged to be married with a future wife in America wants to have “the last adventure of his life” and wants to get engaged with a young beautiful Japanese woman. But he didn’t expect this young woman to fall completely in love with him. You should come and see what happens next!

The Mad Scene: What special insights do you have about your interpretation of your character?

Israel Lozano: As a tenor, an opera singer and musician, it is a wonderful singing and musical part. It shows the vocal range of a full lyric tenor, and as an actor, it shows the spontaneity of the acting of a character who visits another country and discovering the beauty of another culture.

The Mad Scene: In many ways, Pinkerton is kind of the ‘bad guy’ of the opera. Do you try to make him a sympathetic character? How do you try to make the audience like him?

Israel Lozano: As a person, I try to learn from the good and bad experiences of the role. I am learning from this character how to be sensitive about relationships without losing my passion. Being a tenor is an important responsibility, even if you are sometimes playing the “bad guy”. For Pinkerton, even if he is married and doesn’t love Butterfly, he returns to Japan soon after he discovers that she has had a baby in order to see him. And I won’t tell you more, so you'll have to see the opera… ;)

The Mad Scene: You have studied at the Peabody Conservatory and completed a Young Artist Program in Washington with Maestro Placido Domingo. Being from Mediterranean descent where the art form of opera originated, was it strange for you to be learning opera in the USA?

Israel Lozano:  Learning opera is continuous learning of intellectual and physical skills, because the voice is not only of the mind and soul, it is also about the body. So you have to learn how to live with your body and changes of the voice. I started learning opera in Madrid with the soprano Emelina Lopez and the tenor Alfredo Kraus. After five years of preparation, I traveled to the USA at the Peabody Conservatory and at the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Programme in Washington DC. In the US there is a really good sense of supporting young artists. Music is a universal language, and opera combines this element. Being from Spain and the Mediterranean culture probably helps to have different perspective of what is going on around the world .

The Mad Scene: Are there any differences in how the Americans learn and teach opera compared to how the Spanish do it?

Israel Lozano:  It all depends on the teachers and especially on the students. Everybody needs to find their own way and to learn how to fight and grow up. It is very important how a good student are you and how much you would like to learn.

The Mad Scene: Can you tell us a funny story that happened when you were working with Maestro Domingo?

Israel Lozano:  I have a few, but a very important and remarkable one was during a celebration of his birthday at the White House in Washington DC. I sang for him the “Brindisi” of La Traviata. After I finished, he started singing “Happy birthday” for me! Turns out we have the same birthday date (January 21st)! So we are both Aquarians, from Madrid, we love soccer/football, and are both tenors!!

The Mad Scene: What are your favourite recordings of Madama Butterfly?

Israel Lozano:  I have few favorites recording of Madama Butterfly, including the recordings of Domingo, Pavarotti, Bergonzi and Bjorling, as well as those by Scotto, Freni, Moffo and Gheorghiu. I also happen to be a big fan of the version by Lozano and Nancy Yuen with maestro Somtow Sucharitkul!

The Mad Scene: Other than Butterfly, what other CDs or DVDs have you heard or seen recently? Care to recommend any?

Israel Lozano:  I am in love with the talent of the violinist Itzhak Perlman and his recording of “Cinema Serenade”. I am listening and watching a lot of recordings of La Boheme. I just finished recording a film version of “The Bohemians’ Movie” in New York City and Los Angeles City with the director Jose Luis R. Cortes. (The film will be release in 2013).

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why we should all come and watch the Singapore Lyric Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly?

Israel Lozano: SLO (Singapore Lyric Opera) is doing a wonderful job supporting the arts, the music and the opera. It is an honor and an beautiful responsibility for me to built and keep this passion and tradition in the opera world. It is incredible how young people are getting involve in this “beautiful schizophrenic world for the performance on the stage” and showing what a great chemistry is to feel the music, the orchestra, the chorus, the customs, the stage set design, the lighting design and all the people who works behind the stage and all the production process that really makes a philosophy of leaving.

In the production are participating a great colleagues as maestro Andrew Sinclair, maestro Joshua Kangming Tan, Mako Nishimoto and John Antoniou. I would like to invite all your readers to my web site at Thanks for this interview!

More information available at the SLO's website. Check out our interview with tomorrow's Prima Donna here!

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