By Carole Reedy
Even before the pandemic, classical music, and especially the opera, appeared to be on the downslide in our grand cultural city. Over the years, music lovers had become accustomed to a solid season filled with operas, symphonies, and string quartets as well as individual appearances by world famous artists, such as Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, home-grown tenor Javier Camerena, and even the queen of opera Maria Callas, the American-born Greek soprano, in the 1950s.
It is true that classical music venues in México do not receive adequate support and funding from the government. Neither is private support up to the level of other nations. For whatever reason, the scene was not the same as it had been in earlier years.
Then came the pandemic and everything shut down.
However, during those bleak pandemic years emerged a single figure, a young musician, to rescue the classical music scene. His enthusiasm, knowledge, foresight, diversity, and dedication to communicating with the public has changed the course of music for all of us.
Enter Iván López Reynoso
His name is Iván López Reynoso. In his early 30s in 2020, and after two years as assistant conducter of the Orquesta del Opera Bellas Artes at 18, López Reynoso was named Director Artístico de la Orquesta del Teatro Bellas Artes. From that time to the present, the roster at Bellas Artes has been chock full of opera and symphonic concerts, live and online. The maestro’s personal calendar is even more impressive.
López Reynoso was born in Guanajuato in 1990; after his parents, who were engineers, recognized his interest in music, he began to study violin, piano, and conducting from an early age. At 15, he studied at the Conservatorio de Las Rosas in Morelia, and from there he went to Mexico City..
He’s also a significant figure in the music world outside of Mexico, conducting in Oman, Spain, the US, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, among other countries.
The first time I saw Maestro López was on a free Zoom session during the pandemic in which he analyzed Verdi’s opera Rigoletto by sitting at a piano for two hours, playing the score, singing many of the parts (he is an accomplished counter-tenor), all while explaining the opera to his attentive listeners. From that moment I knew he would be a significant figure in my life as well as for the future of opera in Mexico.
He states the philosophy of his career simply in an article from Forbes magazine: “I have as a mission and as a philosophy that every concert I direct, every note I sing or every chord I play, I have to play it as if it were the last chord in my life, as if it were the last concert I am going to conduct. That is, with the maximum dedication, the maximum effort, love and devotion possible.”
This is evident in every concert he conducts and every role he sings as a countertenor, his other talent.
Of significance to the listening public, López Reynoso communicates actively with his followers on social media (look for him on Facebook and Instagram), where he announces concerts, musical events, and venues, all with a very personal touch. When information is readily available, the music community responds with enthusiasm. Gracias Maestro for bringing the music to us!
Not only does the city have the ambition and talent of López Reynoso, but venues elsewhere here are opening once again for concerts.
And the Beat Goes On …
The Auditorio Nacional has opened its doors to the Metropolitan Opera of New York transmissions. Each season, the Auditorio presents ten of the Met’s operas, which provides a perfect sound system and a huge screen for viewing.
In addition, opera transmissions from the Royal Opera House in London will be presented once again at CCU (Centro Cultural Universitario). The popular Carmen, Il Travatore, Turandot, Cinderella, The Marriage of Figaro, and Sleeping Beauty will be among the operas shown on Sundays in May, June, and July 2023.
Sala Nezahualcóyotl also has a full schedule ahead with the Orquesta Filarmónica de la UNAM (OFUNAM), performing regularly in May and June
Soprano Elīna Garanča returned to Mexico in March at the magnificent Bellas Artes venue. And each week other musical events are adorning the main theater. Check the schedule online. I am happy to conclude this article with positive thoughts for the future of classical music in Mexico City!