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.”
Mr. Barbera begins the 2013-14 season as the tenor soloist in the Verdi Requiem with the Melbourne Philharmonic, a piece he will reprise with the Seattle Symphony later this year. He will also be heard performing Bolcom’s Lorca Songs with the Pacific Symphony. Mr. Barbera makes two major debuts this season, first at the Opéra National de Paris as Arturo in I puritani, and at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia. He then returns to the United States to sing his first performances of the Duke in Rigoletto at Opera Colorado. Finally, Mr. Barbera finishes the season as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, first at Austin Lyric Opera, then at Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
In the 2012-2013 season, Mr. Barbera continued to make important company debuts throughout North America. He opened the season in his company and role debut as
Elvino in La sonnambula with Washington Concert Opera, followed by his debut with Michigan Opera Theater as Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, and his return to Lyric Opera of Chicago for his role debut as Ernesto in Don Pasquale. He sang performances of Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola in his debuts with Seattle Opera and Los Angeles Opera, and was heard as Almaviva at the Stanislavsky Music Theatre in Moscow. In the summer of 2013, he made his Santa Fe Opera debut as Rodrigo in Rossini’s La donna del lago.
During the 2011-2012 season, Mr. Barbera was 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. Mr. Barbera made his company and role debut with Vancouver Opera as Almaviva in The Barber of Seville and made his company debut with Canadian Opera Company as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicci. Additional performances included a solo recital at the Festival of Music in Medoc, France, Rossini’s Stabat Mater for the Grant Park Music Festival, and his debut as Tamino with Maestro James Conlon and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival.
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 American Institute of Vocal Arts in Graz, Austria, and the Vocal Arts Symposium of Colorado Springs.