We caught up with Joel Prieto ahead of his Rosenblatt Recital. Read on to find out more.
You made your Royal Opera House debut earlier this year in Falstaff, which must have been quite an experience. How did it feel to sing on the Covent Garden stage and what did you take from this experience?
It was probably the best experience of my career so far. The combination of Robert Carsen’s amazing production, a stellar cast, great colleagues, a superb working atmosphere and the musical inspiration of conductor Daniele Gatti, made it a memorable moment. It was one of those situations where everything works in perfect harmony and we created magic. Moreover, I enjoy working in this type of production where a character is as important as the singing, it’s exciting! I felt immediately at home at the Royal Opera House. It was a debut I will never forget.
You won several prizes at the Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition in 2008. How did these wins help you as a newcomer?
Operalia was definitely a turning point for me where my career took a different journey. Many important projects came out of it. I’m still humbled by what happened that night at the competition and I can only be grateful for all the wonderful things that came out of it.
Plácido Domingo is a real mentor and a role model for me. His work ethic, his artistry, his passion and enthusiasm are things I admire. He is a kind open human being and being in contact with him made me realise you don’t have to change your nature in order to appear tough in this business. Power comes from within. That is probably one the most important things I learned from my Operalia experience.
Where do you see your career going in the next few years?
I hope it keeps developing in the way it’s developing right now. I would like to keep working in great productions and keep combining opera, recitals and concerts. There are many exciting projects for the future!
Which roles do you aspire to sing?
At the moment I enjoy my repertoire very much. I sing a lot of Mozart, Donizetti and some lighter Verdi. In the future when the time is right I would like to sing roles like Alfredo in La traviata, Romeo in Romeo et Juliette, and Rodolfo in La bohèmewhere I can show more passion and keep singing my bel canto and Mozart roles.
You were born in Spain, grew up in Puerto Rico and studied in NYC. How has this influenced your taste in music?
I think it has given me a very particular point of view. Having a Spanish father and a Puerto Rican mother has definitely influenced the way I am as a person and the things that come naturally for me in terms of expression. It’s a combination if the ‘old’ world and the ‘new’ world: Europe and the Americas. I was exposed to music from a very early age. I think I was five when I first touched a violin and started taking lessons. At age 6, I entered the San Juan Children Choir in Puerto Rico and it really changed my life. My love for singing was developed from a very early age. I took all that background and went to NYC to find my operatic voice and learn all the different styles and skills required for this art form. New York was the bridge between my education and the birth of my career in Europe.
What other passions do you have aside from music?
I love travelling, although I do it quite a lot these days and I appreciate the times at home.
I think one of my biggest passions is food. I constantly think about food and I like to cook or eat out or buy good food. It’s like my religion! If you ask people that know me well they would tell you that I have some sort of obsession with good food and health, and that I like to talk about food a lot…maybe it’s my Spanish heritage.
I like researching about human evolution, our genetic code and scientific human anthropology. I love science and it’s relation to the creative process. I enjoy doing some body awareness techniques like Alexander Technique and meditation.
I enjoy different types of art like painting, literature, film and photography. Coming from an artistic family, my parents are both writers, one of my sister is a painter and the other one is a photographer, makes me have a strong point of view, and I enjoy stepping out of my music mode and appreciate other forms of expression. I also enjoy being in contact with nature and go for walks.
Looking beyond your Rosenblatt Recital, could you please give us an outline of your forthcoming projects?
After my Rosenblatt Recital I go back to Berlin where I’m rehearsing in a new production of La finta giardiniera at the Staatsoper, where I will also make my Italian Singer debut in Der Rosenkavalier in December. Afterwards, I’ll perform Don Giovanni at the Houston Grand Opera and will debut at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in Der Rosenkavalier. Later this season I will perform my first Don Pasquale in Teatro dell’Opera in Rome and my first L’elisir d’amore in Galicia Spain which I’m very excited about.
– Rosenblatt Recitals / 22 October 2012