Born c. 1965 in Punta Arenas, Chile; married to Malin; three children. Education: Göteborg Academy of Theater and Opera, Sweden Addresses: Record company--Silva Screen Records America, Silva Classics, 1600 Broadway, Suite 910, New York, NY 10019.

Tito Beltrán is a man with a mission--to spread the beauty of the opera to the youth of the world, and especially to those in his homeland of Chile. He loves to sing above all else, and his wish is for the opera experience to reach around the globe. Throughout his career, Beltrán, a native of Patagonia, has used every opportunity to return to Chile and perform for his fellow countrymen who are disadvantaged culturally because of their remote location. Passionate and politically involved, Beltrán immigrated to Sweden in 1986 in a self-imposed exile to protest the repressive political regime of August Pinochet. Beltrán remained politically active, and opera became at once his passion and an instrument of reform, by which he resolved to propagate a message of classical beauty and hope.

Beltrán was born c.1965 in Punta Arenas, Chile, just off of the coast of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Punta Arenas is situated in a remote peninsular location on the tip of the mainland in the desolate region of Patagonia. It was in this area, unusually isolated from world culture, that Beltrán spent his youth. Remarkably, it was also the place that he first learned of the opera as well.

Even as a youth in Chile, Beltrán found gratification and enjoyment in singing. At the age of 16 he embarked on a professional singing career performing popular tunes. His interests, however, changed dramatically one day when his father showed him a videotape of a 1951 MGM video called The Great Caruso.The movie, starring the late Mario Lanza, proved inspirational to Beltrán, and ignited the young tenor's interest in classical singing. So impressed and inspired was Beltrán that he set out immediately to expand his repertoire, adding especially those classical songs associated with Mario Lanza. As voice teachers were not available on the barren Chilean plateau where Beltrán lived, he continued to nurture his career as previously, performing at the same popular venues, yet updating his programs to include some of the old classical pieces like "Ave Maria."

As the Chilean nation entered the 1980s, Beltrán became disenchanted with the oppressive regime of the country's dictator August Pinochet. Through the assistance of an uncle living in Sweden, Beltran immigrated to that country in 1986 in what he termed a self-imposed exile. Following his move to Sweden, Beltrán embarked on a serious course of classical voice training with a goal of becoming a professional opera singer. His first teacher, an elderly diva in her 80s, taught him proper breath control and other lyric techniques. Beltrán, who was then 20 years old, fought the drudgery, but eventually came to appreciate the importance of self-discipline. He attended the Göteborg Academy of Theater and Opera, and he spent some time studying in London, England. Through his studies he learned of the late Swedish tenor, Jussi Bjorling, and looked to the memory of the celebrated singer for a role model. Sweden celebrated no living classical tenors at that time, thus as Beltrán's talent matured and he developed his skills during those early years of his career, the Swedes respected Beltrán much as they had respected Bjorling.

As Beltrán's classical repertoire expanded, he traveled the world, yet repeatedly he realized his greatest satisfaction when he performed in Chile. In 1992 he sang the role of the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigolettoat Teatro Municipal in Santiago, and he returned to Santiago in September of 1997 in the same role. Beltrán's 1997 performance prompted Enzo Berio of Opera News to call Beltrán "a highly competent Duke, his lyric voice ringing out to advantage." During that same visit to Chile, Beltrán visited his hometown of Punta Arenas where he performed a fund-raiser for the Lion's Club. In the summer of 1999, he sang once more in Santiago, as Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème,a role that he sang originally as a student of music in Sweden.

Beltrán's European performance venues included Convent Gardens with the Royal Opera Company where he appeared as Rodolfo, and as the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier. In 1993 he sang as a finalist in the Singer of the World competition at Cardiff, Wales, England, and in the spring of 1996, Beltrán graced the North American continent with his debut as Rodolfo, at the Michigan Opera in Detroit, Michigan. Despite his relative youth as a classical singer, by the end of the 1990s, Beltrán's appearances spanned Europe--from Iceland to Sweden to Toulouse--as well as to the Opera North in England and across the Atlantic to North America where he sang to critical acclaim in a variety of roles. He performed his Rodolfo at the San Francisco Opera, and also brought the role to Convent Garden, the Hamburg State Opera, and Rio. He performed as Verdi's Duke in Monte Carlo, Geneva, and Sweden, and in April of 1997 he returned to the Detroit Opera House in that role. Jeffrey Smith in Opera News said that the tenor's voice as Duke was "often forceful and metallic...."

In December of 1997, Beltrán reprised his Duke role for the San Francisco Opera, and critics noted Beltrán's ability to emote. His Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore--which he performed in Sweden, Florida, and again later with the Pittsburgh Opera--earned more accolades for the singer. It was the Orlando, Florida production in 1997 that prompted Tim Smith to note in Opera News that Beltrán was a "combination nebbish and teddy bear [he] brought an intriguing earthiness in the character." Early in his career he sang Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Icelandic Opera and performed in the Rosenkavalier tenor role at Copenhagen's Royal Danish Opera, and in San Francisco as well. His other roles include Ruggero in La Rondine,Alfredo Germont in La Traviata, Ismaele in Nabucco,and Tybalt in Romeo et Juliette.

Soulful and talented, Beltrán is small in stature and possesses a voice best suited for lyric roles. As Beltrán came to prominence, he evoked comparison to Caruso because of the strength and quality of his voice. Some called him the Chilean Caruso, and he proved worthy of that reputation. Among his most impressive performances, one evening as a stand-in for Nemorino in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore, the plucky tenor amazed all present with his creative antics when he performed one aria, live on stage, while walking around the set on his hands. The gymnastic display, according to Beltrán, was completely impromptu and highly effective for its spontaneity. It served to demonstrate not only the tenor's agility, but also the strength and control of his melodic voice.

Beltrán released his first album in 1995. The recording, called Tito Beltrán,featured Robin Stapleton conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Selections on the recording included classic operatic arias from La Bohème, La Traviata,and Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearlfishers).Stapleton and the Philharmonic were heard again on Beltrán's Romanticain 1996, an album that included songs from around the world. In 1999 Beltrán released a recording called Tenor at the Movies,wherein he paid tribute to Mario Lanza not only through the selection of songs, but also by emulating the style of the great American tenor. Additionally, the chairman of the British Mario Lanza Society contributed an introduction to the recording. Beltrán recorded the album with Paul Bateman conducting the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Arthur said in American Record Guidethat Beltrán has a "fine lyric tenor voice with splendid top notes, and sings with intelligence and sincerity." The album, recorded in high-quality sound, includes operatic arias, plus music from the movies Titanicand Love Story. Also in 1999 Beltrán recorded the first Spanish-language version of "My Heart Will Go On" from the film Titanic.

Amid the accolades, Beltrán has received criticism for singing compositions that are too sophisticated for his relative youth as a classical singer--songs with too much range, that might strain his developing voice. Likewise, Beltrán's managers constantly encourage him to rest his voice to avoid the risk of a strain that might put a valuable career in jeopardy. Critically, the apprehension was valid, in consideration of the dearth of young tenors at the dawn of the twenty-first century. The arena of Beltrán's generation remained limited when compared to a previous generation of opera talent that included the legendary Three Tenors--Carreras, Pavarotti, and Domingo--who shared the spotlight for years. Beltrán responded to critics by singing continually on and off stage, for the sheer joy of the music. Not singing was punishment for him, according to the tenor who upheld a serendipitous stance regarding his place in history as a rising new voice.

Beltrán makes his home in Kungsbacka, Sweden with his wife, Malin, and their three children. He performs regularly on mainstream Swedish television.

by Gloria Cooksey

Tito Beltrán's Career

Started professional singer career at age 16; immigrated to Sweden, began classical voice training, 1986; released first album, Tito Beltrán, 1995; has performed in the U.S., Europe, and South America; roles include: Duke of Mantua, Rigoletto,Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile, 1992; Geneva (December 1996, January 1998), Michigan Opera Theatre (April 1997); Toulouse (June 1997); Santiago, San Francisco Opera (December 1997, 1998); Oregon (October 1998); Rodolfo, La Bohème,Leeds (February 1996), Michigan Opera Theatre (May 1996), London, (October 1996), Bordeaux (May 1998); Santiago (July 1999);Italian Tenor, Der Rosenkavalier; Nemorino, L'Elisir d'Amore,Florida (November 1996), Pittsburgh Opera (November 1998); Edgardo, Lucia di Lammermoor; Ruggero, La Rondine; Alfredo Germont, La Traviata; Ismaele, Nabucco; Tybalt, Romeo et Juliette. Member of the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen and San Francisco Opera.

Tito Beltrán's Awards

Finalist, Singer of the World Competition, Cardiff, Wales, England, 1993.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

PeriodicalsOnline

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 8 years ago

" Sweden celebrated no living classical tenors at that time", What an insult to the fine artists, who may not have been household names who were performing to critical acclaim in Sweden in the 1980s! This article needs some editing!