The ÓPERA ACTUAL Foundation, a support to the Latin American lyric quarry

On November 14, with the presentation concert of the ÓPERA ACTUAL Foundation in Barcelona, the work of this non-profit organization was announced, which has been created with the aim of helping young Latin American opera singers financially, in terms of studies and advice. This social and educational project was born from the conviction of several of the magazine’s partners that young people need help that they do not always get from public institutions.

He was the entrepreneur and contributor to the magazine ÓPERA ACTUAL in advertising and marketing, Óscar Martoswho a year ago -and in view of the lack of platforms to promote the always difficult first steps of young singers in Spain-, proposed to Fernando Sans Rivière, Director of the publicationthe creation of the Fundación ÓA. Not in vain, he himself, at the beginning of his own career as an opera singer, suffered from a lack of opportunities, which led to a brilliant business career and the creation of the Ocuri Investments group, which has been focused on the luxury sector for 20 years.

“I believe that the impetus to embark on a project like the ÓA Foundation” explains Martos, president of the entity, “It comes from my childhood in Venezuela. There I was lucky enough to discover something as wonderful as music, which has accompanied me throughout my life. In the context of the Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Sinfónicas de Venezuela promoted by José Antonio Abreu, I began singing in choral groups and later as a soloist, making my debut with Alfio from Cavalleria rusticana at the age of 18. After training at the Simón Bolívar Conservatory I decided to perfect my studies in the United States, Italy and, finally, Spain, and at that moment I realized that this wonderful journey through music was also full of thorns, sacrifices and difficulties”..

“Currently, and after having developed an extensive business career,” continues the president of the Foundation, “I am at a stage in my life with enough peace of mind to contribute and create a platform to support young Ibero-American singers to go through that initial hard road. The idea is to prevent young talents from getting lost because they can’t afford a plane ticket to an audition, a contest or a master class”..

The director of the ÓA Foundation, Fernando Sans Rivière, emphasizes that the idea of creating a charitable organization of this nature, “I was immediately enthusiastic. After more than three decades at the helm of the magazine and having participated as a jury member in numerous international singing competitions, I have been able to observe how exceptionally talented young singers abandon their careers shortly after starting them for lack of financial means. We believe that with occasional help, good advice and the collaboration of active professionals – who are very receptive to the project, as they were helped in their time – the ÓA Foundation can make sense and do a great job”..

Today’s digital platforms make it easier to make yourself known,” insists Oscar Martos, “but an investment in training is always necessary. That little bit of help, that boost at a given moment, can be decisive in a career and that is what we aim to facilitate”. Both comment that they hope to see the first results within two or three years and to get other people, institutions and companies to believe in the project so that the ÓA Foundation can work effectively with an outstanding number of virtuous young people from the country and Latin America, who, according to Martos, will be able to do their work, “They deserve this help to fulfill their dream of dedicating themselves professionally to opera singing”.

Members of the Board of Trustees

In April 2022, the first meeting of the ÓA Foundation’s Board of Trustees was held, where the possible lines of action were discussed, auditions were held with the first possible grantees and the number and names of the various trustees that would make up the Foundation were decided. Once the governing bodies and the board of trustees were agreed upon, it was decided that it would be formed by Óscar Martos as president, Fernando Sans Rivière as director together with five trustees: Francisco Cholbi repertoire pianist and physician; Albert Garriga, an advertising and public relations businessman with studies in journalism, piano and cello and linked since he was young to the promotion of music; and Javier Pérez Senz, journalist, music critic, collaborator of El País, Babelia, ÓPERA ACTUAL, Scherzo and Revista Musical Catalana, who has worked for decades in Radio Clásica and Ràdio 4 (RNE), Sinfo Radio and Cadena Catalana. Carlos Mora Pacheco, a lawyer specializing in business legal advice and taxation linked to the Ocuri Investments group, serves as secretary of the board.

The godparents and the scholarship recipients

As the ÓA Foundation is being launched, sponsors and friends have emerged with the desire to collaborate in these always difficult beginnings, who are thanked for their valuable contribution. The first public activity of the new Foundation was its presentation concert on November 14 at the Axa Auditorium in Barcelona, where the first three scholarship recipients of the entity and two luxury sponsors were heard, such as the soprano and singing teacher Fiorenza Cedolins. The prominent Italian interpreter highlights the need to defend “the wonderful and complex art of opera, today in danger of disappearing. We must support initiatives such as the ÓA Foundation that promote the dissemination of this extraordinary art, thinking above all of young people who are obviously the future. Great talents must be promoted so that they develop and then multiply the lyrical community through their qualities. A virtuous circle that makes the world a better place”.

Jan Antem

The bass-baritone from Zaragoza Carlos Chausson also acted as godfather at the presentation concert, who emphasizes that “The transition between the training and professional stages is especially complicated and an instrument like the ÓA Foundation can greatly help both economically and in terms of specialization in your first years of career.”.
Entities and companies such as the Hotel Alma, the Conservatori Liceu, the mezzo-soprano and singing teacher Francesca Roig, the pianist Ricardo Francia, the Mirna Lacambra Foundation, the Auditori AXA or Jorquera Pianos are also collaborating in the first steps of the new Foundation.
In this first year, three young talents from Spain, Cuba and Mexico have been chosen as scholarship recipients. The Barcelona baritone Jan Antem, who already has a budding international career, comments that his first contact with opera was a theatrical performance at his school in Turandot. “That sparked my curiosity and it was love at first sight” and that “It was Fernando Sans Rivière and Javier Pérez Senz, who already knew me from the beginning of my career, who suggested I be part of this project. I feel lucky to have been awarded a scholarship by a Foundation that I hope will help many people and that was necessary in this country where scholarships of this type are scarce. “I want to perfect my technical training and get in touch with other musicians and singers who can give me tools with which to build a solid foundation.”.

Dailis Roche

Havana soprano Dailis Roche arrived from Cuba a year ago trying to grow artistically and professionally. “I have always been very daring and I immediately entered the Montserrat Caballé Competition with the aim of gaining experience, since I knew that there were participants much more trained than me. There, although I didn’t win, I was lucky enough to be heard by Fernando Sans Rivière, who was on the jury and who called me after a few months to talk to me about the ÓA Foundation and propose me as a scholarship recipient. I must say that I am still excited about the opportunities that this wonderful project can bring me and, even more, when thinking about the inaugural concerts in which I will be able to share the stage with my scholarship colleagues and with singing stars such as Carlos Chausson and Fiorenza Cedolins”.

Albert Robert

The tenor from Celaya, Guanajuato, Alberto Robert, assures that his interest in singing arose when he was very little. “Although there is no operatic tradition in my family, music was constantly played at home. Mexican songs, boleros, ballads… With that music I started singing until I joined a children’s choir at the age of 7. It was there where I began to discover other repertoires and other types of music in different languages. Little by little my love for opera began. I am currently part of the Opera Studio of the Stuttgart Opera, where I made my debut last season with Il barbiere di Siviglia and where I will sing this and several more titles in this new season.” ÓA