Marcelo Raúl Àlvarez, one of the most important tenors of the world, was born in Córdoba, Argentina in 1962
At the age of five he was enrolled in the Escuela de Niños Cantores de Córdoba, where he studied music until he was 17 and got his diploma as a “choir master and music teacher”. Afterwards, he completely abandoned his musical studies, till the age of 30, when he started studying opera singing.
His first important role was the Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville by Rossini, interpreted Córdoba in June 1994. In the same year, he was praised for his talent by the legendary tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano who listened to him during a master class he hold at the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires.
In February 1995 Àlvarez was invited by Pavarotti to Philadelphia (USA) for the final phase of the "Pavarotti International Voice Competition”. Pavarotti's invitation was followed by Ismael Pons's request to come to the town of Menorca in Spain to interpret the opera Marina organised by the Spanish baritone Juan Pons. Then Àlvarez, feeling more confident about his future, decided to move to Europe to improve his chances of continuing his career as an opera singer.
In Europe Àlvarez won a singing contest in Pavia, and signed several contracts with La Fenice Theatre in Venice, and with Carlo Felice Theatre in Genoa. For his debut at La Fenice in Venice he was offered the opportunity to choose the debut role, and he chose the difficult character of Elvino in La Sonnambula by Bellini. In this period he started a collaboration with Ms. Franca Mattiucci, who became his "artistic advisor" in the three following years.
In November 1995, Àlvarez was engaged in Genoa to interpret the role of Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata, with Mariella Devia, one of the best Italian sopranos, for the first time in the role of Violetta. After the success of this performance he was invited by opera houses all over Europe to perform new roles in Donizetti's La figlia del Reggimento, Linda di Chamounix and Lucia di Lammermoor; Der Rosenkavallier by Strauss; Rigoletto by Verdi, I Puritani by Bellini; Werther and Manonby Massenet.
The new tenor got the approval from the entire Italian press for his natural artistic skills, attracted the attention of the record label after the interpretation of Rigoletto in Toulouse, and signed an exclusive contract with them and produced six CDs in the course of six years.
In 1998, he sang La Traviata at Royal Albert Hall, and on the Covent Garden Tour in Baden Baden he appeared in the same production under the conduction of Plàcido Domingo.
In autumn 1998, he released his first solo CD titled Bel Canto which was distributed by Sony Classics. Three other CDs followed: Marcelo Álvarez sings Gardel, dedicated to Argentine tango by Carlos Gardel, French Opera Arias and The Tenor's Passion, a collection of some of the most popular opera arias. Àlvarez also released the complete album of the opera Manon with Renee Fleming, a performance recorded live at the Bastille Opera in Paris. The DVDs include La Bohème at La Scala, Rigoletto at Covent Garden, Barcelona Liceu Theatre and at the Theatre of Siena, Lucia di Lammermoor recorded in Genoa and Tokyo, Werther at the Vienna State Opera, Tosca at the Arena of Verona, and Un Ballo in Maschera at the Royal Theatre of Madrid.
1999 was the year of the production of the award-winning documentary film, Marcelo Àlvarez in Search of Garde, a reproduction of the most famous tangos in the spirit and style of the tango legend Carlos Gardel.
Àlvarez made his debut at the Royal Opera House in London in September 2000 with The Tales of Hoffmann by Offenbach. He sang at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in a new production of Franco Zeffirelli's La Traviata conducted by James Levine. Then, he appeared in the same opera in the Roman Theatre of Orange in France, and finally performed in Vienna, Paris, and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
In autumn 2001 Àlvarez interpreted the character of the Duke of Mantua in the new and controversial production of Rigoletto at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, a production directed by the Scottish stage director David McVicar.
In January 2002, he interpreted the role of Alfredo in La Traviata together with Inva Mula at the inauguration of the new Teatro degli Arcimboldi in Milan, the temporary home of La Scala until 2004. In 2002 and 2003 he continued to perform at the same theatre making his debut in Lucrezia Borgia by Donizetti and in La Bohème by Puccini, originally created for Luciano Pavarotti and then realized by Franco Zeffirelli.
In June 2003, Àlvarez and the Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra recorded Duetto, a collection of romantic ballads based on opera arias and other classical melodies performed at the Colosseum in Rome, then in Central Park in New York, and broadcast to the U.S.A. by PBS public television.
In 2003 he switched to a more dramatic “spinto” tenor repertoire, which lead him to some of his major successes.
In 2004 he debuted in Luisa Miller at Covent Garden and in Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera.
He continued studying his new repertoire, and in the year 2006 he made his debut as Manrico in Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Parma Theatre, a place well-known for the importance of its harsh criticism against tenors. In this period he performed among others with Angela Gheorghiu, Bryn Terfel, Fiorenza Cedolins, Ruggero Raimondi.
In 2008 Àlvarez performed in numerous productions of Carmen by Bizet making his debut in Toulouse. In 2009 he released his first CD under Decca label with the title The Verdi Tenor. Simultaneously, Sony Classics launched the collection of his best performances Marcelo Àlvarez Tenorissimo.
In 2009-2010 Àlvarez opened the the Met’s season, as Cavaradossi in Puccini's 'Tosca, with the soprano Karita Mattila and the baritone George Gagnidze, for a new controversial production of the Swiss director Luc Bondy, replacing the sumptuous one by Franco Zeffirelli. The opera was broadcast free-of-charge on a giant outdoor screen in Lincoln Center's Josie Robertson Plaza, and on several screens on Times Square, then it was transmitted as part of the Met HD series distributed in the United States and in 44 other countries to nearly 300,000 people.
In April 2010 he debuted at Covent Garden in London with the role of Radamès in Aida by Verdi. Then in the summer, he returned to the Arena of Verona to participate in the productions of Carmen and ll Trovatore.
Àlvarez sang under the greatest conductors such as Gianandrea Gavazzeni, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Daniel Oren, Bruno Bartotelli, Marcello Viotti, López Cobos, James Conlon, Riccardo Chailly, Stefano Ranzani, Jules Rudel, Miguel Angel Veltri, Antonio Pappano, Michael Plason, Nicola Palumbo Luissotti, Semyon Bychkov, Philippe Jordan, and Gianandrea Noseda. Since his debut he has interpreted a great number of roles, a long series of new challenges which contributed to inspired him and to consolidate his career.
© Javier del Real