I started to work with Pacific Lyric Opera when the founders, Carlos and Terry Oliva, were heading the organization. I met the Olivas many years ago in Santa Barbara because I was auditioning for the productions at Santa Barbara Opera as a tenor. I should say that I was not directing opera at the time but singing onstage in productions. My repertory included the tenor leads in such operas as “Tosca,” “Madam Butterfly,” “La Traviata,” among others, including my favorite, “Carmen.” The very talented Olivas were auditioning for Santa Barbara opera as well. Their young son, also named Gabriel, was auditioning for the great American opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors", as was Terry for the role of the mother. We got to know each-other after that and sang together many times in various works.
Several years later, my wife, a wonderful soprano, and I were visiting the Olivas in San Diego when they were rehearsing “Rigoletto” by Verdi, and they invited me to direct their next opera. By that time, I had been artistic director for a regional opera in Los Angeles, Guild Opera Company, the second oldest opera company in California, after the San Francisco Opera. Guild Opera Company specializes in community outreach and outreach to elementary schools. I am immensely proud to have been with Guild Opera Company all these years. I am completing my twenty-second year with them. The company gives opportunities to professional singers and up-and-coming talent in the Southland. For example, artists such as Marilyn Horne, the famous mezzo-soprano, Marnie Nixon, famous for being the voice to Natalie Wood in the film version of "West Side Story," Audrey Hepburn in the film version of "My Fair Lady," and Mary Costa, the voice and body for the original Disney "Sleeping Beauty," all got their start with Guild Opera Company. Since that time, I have had the pleasure of directing various productions with PLA, including “Carmen.” Last season I directed “Die Fledermaus,” the greatest operetta written in my opinion. That was fun, fun, fun!
I started in the world of music as a child playing violin. I attended conservatory in my native Cuba. I also sang as a kid and for a while had a children's radio program with two of my sisters. After the difficult migration from the repressive and communist Cuba, I was able to pick up the violin and learn viola in high school and college in Glendale, California. My passion was singing, so I dedicated my efforts to that endeavor and went to Cal State University Northridge where there was a terrific program. I was fortunate to sing in many operas there and after college continued my studies with a wonderful teacher, Ms. Elisabeth Parham, who became my mentor. Thanks to her, I was able to have a career on the operatic stage. I have been extremely fortunate to pursue my passion and I am grateful for the opportunities which were afforded to me in this great country.
I am looking forward to this production of “Carmen” and give my gratitude to Maestra Alex Keegan and Justin Gray, producer extraordinaire as well as expert musician. It is an opera which is close to my heart and was the second opera of which I became aware in my young life. The first was Mozart's "Magic Flute" which cast a spell over me. However, when I discovered “Carmen,” it quickly became a favorite.
“Carmen” is truly a masterpiece of music and theater. No wonder it is arguably the number one opera in the world. To think that it was considered a failure when it premiered, that Bizet, its composer, died soon after its premiere and never got to see the triumph that it became. That, in and of itself, is "operatic" in scope!
ABOUT Gabriel Reoyo-Pazos
Director Gabriel Reoyo-Pazos is the recipient of the 2007 El Angel Award from the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts. He has sung leading operatic roles, as well as roles in zarzuelas, oratorios, and musicals with various companies, including Anchorage Opera, Spanish Lyric Theater in Tampa (Florida), West Bay Opera, Spokane Opera, Santa Barbara Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, LA Music Center, The European Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, and The Angeles Chorale.
Mr. Reoyo-Pazos’s directing credits include Enrique Gonzalez-Medina’s opera “Serafina y Arcángelaat” at the Theater Center in Tijuana (Mexico), “The Marriage of Figaro,” at The Ventura College Opera Workshop, “Cavalleria Rusticana,” “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” and “Suor Angelica,” for Riverside Opera, and “La Bohéme,” for Ridgecrest Opera Guild as well as Guild Opera Company. For Pacific Lyric Association, he has directed “Carmen,” “La Traviata,” “Il Trovatore,” and “Tosca.”