Despite the virus, “music is in the air.” Mexican tenor Jesús León made sure of this!
In 2019, Jesús and conductor Toby Purser, head of conducting at the Royal College of Music, London,co-founded the Vienna Opera Academy and Vienna Opera Festival. The summer Academy provides a program of singing instruction, coachings and master classes for enrolled students, many of whom sing in the Festival that caps the program. This summer, rather than cancel the Academy and Festival because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jesús and Toby adapted to the situation. They arranged to hold rehearsals at the Wiener Musikverein and performances at the Palais Eschenbach and the Mozarthaus. They were successful in securing the outdoor venue at the Schlossgarten des Belvedere for the final grand concert. All performances were free with online reservations required.
The main project of this summer’s Academy was the coaching and preparation of a concert version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. One of the Buffs’ protégés, baritone Jure Počkaj, was cast as the Don and another Buffs’ singer, Ben Lowe, was scheduled to sing Leporello – but the day before he was to fly to Vienna, the Austrian borders closed to all Americans.
The decision to go ahead with the summer program proved justified: “The day we announced the festival, all tickets were reserved by noon,” Jesús said. “All the performances were completely sold out. I am so grateful for the support we’ve received here in Vienna.” To learn more about this annual summer Academy and Festival, go to https://viennaoperaacademy.com and https://viennaoperafestival.com/
Now based in Vienna with an active career in Europe, Jesús was a member of the first class of Young Artists under Placido Domingo at LA Opera. “During my years in Los Angeles, I was also closely associated with the Opera Buffs, which supported me with encouragement and funds, and provided my first performance opportunity in Los Angeles,” he said. Now, many years later, Jesús returns the favor; he created and maintains the Buffs’ website. “Giving back to the Buffs, where I received so much love and support, is a pleasure,” he said, “as is paying it forward by teaching students here in Vienna. Even during the quarantine, the opera world moves forward!”
Missing Jesús? Missing Vienna? We’ve got just the solution. Enjoy his artistry HERE.
About this series — It’s a challenge to be grateful to COVID-19, but one good thing the pandemic has fostered is adaptation and CREATIVITY. Our Opera Buffs’ singers exemplify this, as our series will reveal. Many have become solopreneurs par excellence – off on adventures despite sheltering in place. Through the power and beauty of their imagination, their spirit, and their voices, our young artists have discovered new ways, often through unfamiliar terrain, to share their artistry. We look forward to applauding the initiative of our singers by sharing their stories with you.