San Antonio native René Barbera was confirmed today as the tenor in the February performances of Beethoven Symphony No. 9, substituting for Chad Shelton, who was previously announced as the tenor. At age 10, Mr. Barbera began his singing career as a boy soprano in the San Antonio Boys Choir. The other three vocal soloists remain as previously announced— María Alejandres, soprano; Luretta Bybee, mezzo-soprano; and Greer Grimsley, bass-baritone. Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing will conduct the orchestra and the San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers in all three performances. Dr. John Silantien is the director of the Mastersingers. These performances are the final portion of the Symphony’s participation in the city-wide Beethoven Festival in January and February. The Beethoven Festival is sponsored by the KCI.
Tenor René Barbera, a graduate of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, has swiftly established himself as a young artist on the rise. At Placido Domingo’s Operalia 2011 in Moscow, he was awarded First Prize for Opera, First Prize for Zarzuela, and the Audience Prize. He is the first artist to be the sole recipient of all three awards since the competition began in 1993. Earlier in the summer of 2011, he triumphed as Tonio in “The Daughter of the Regiment” for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Of his performance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, “Tenor René Barbera…has a thrilling voice…His account of “Ah! mes amis” the one with the famous nine high Cs was tossed off with such apparent ease that some might wonder what all the fuss is about.”
In the 2011 – 2012 season, Mr. Barbera will be heard on the Lyric Opera of Chicago stage as Arturo in “Lucia di Lammermoor”, Brighella in “Ariadne auf Naxos”, and as Tamino in student matinee performances of “The Magic Flute.” Additionally, he will appear at the Grant Park Music Festival with the Ryan Opera Center and will be featured in “Stars of Lyric Opera at Millenium Park”. Mr. Barbera will make his company and role debut with Vancouver Opera as Almaviva in “The Barber of Seville” and makes his company debut with Canadian Opera Company as Rinuccio in “Gianni Schicci.” Future engagements include a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago and further debuts throughout North America and Europe.
Previous appearances for Lyric Opera of Chicago include “Carmen”, “Un ballo in maschera”, “La Fanciulla del West”, “Lohengrin”, and Don Ramiro in the Ryan Opera Center production of “La Cenerentola.” Concert performances include Handel’s “Messiah” with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9″ with the Chicago Philharmonic. Mr. Barbera is a 2008 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was a member of the San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program that same year, where he performed on the Schwabacher Concert Series and the Grand Finale Concert. In 2007 he won the Grand Prize of the Charles A. Lynam Vocal Competition, which led to his performance with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. In 2006 he won first place in the Heafner/Williams Vocal Competition and First Place in the Charlotte Opera Guild Vocal Competition. Mr. Barbera studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts from 2004 – 2008 and further studies include the the American Institute of Vocal Arts in Graz, Austria, and the Vocal Arts Symposium of Colorado Springs.