Meet Rolando Sanz, LA TRAVIATA’s dashing Alfredo

Our 2016 Season kicks off in just 2 days with a semi-staged production of La traviata on May 13 and 15 in collaboration with the Oratorio Society of Virginia. Tenor Rolando Sanz joins the production as Alfredo, the lovestruck gentleman devoted to Violetta. Sanz, who recently joined the Metropolitan Opera’s roster for Otello, is both an accomplished performer and producer, and has been praised by Opera News for his “warm, strong, highly promising tenor.” Here, Rolando discusses his connection with co-star Cecilia Violetta Lopez, singing at Camden Yards, and founding the Young Artists of America with his brother, a conductor. Don’t miss Rolando in La traviata this weekend — make sure to get your tickets today!

You recently performed Alfredo at the Virginia Opera with Cecilia Violetta Lopez as your Violetta. Are you looking forward to being reunited with the same leading lady in our performances?
I could not be more thrilled to be performing this wonderful score again with Cecilia! Besides being dear friends, we have a wonderful history performing this opera together, most recently at Virginia Opera. Cecilia is not only an amazing colleague, but one of the leading performers of the role of Violetta. Ash Lawn Opera audiences are in for a treat!

Photo by Kathy Wittman
Rolando as Alfredo with Florentine Opera. Photo by Kathy Wittman

You focus on Italian lyric repertoire, such as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and Alfredo. Tell us why your voice is particularly well suited to this repertoire.
Certain voices are more tailored for certain repertoire, and I feel fortunate that I am able to perform so many wonderful Italian roles, such as Nemorino, Alfredo, Rodolfo [from La boheme], and the Duca di Mantua [from Rigoletto]. The great thing is that besides this music suiting my voice well, the repertoire is also well matched to my temperament and musical personality. While I do sing many other roles in various languages and styles, I always feel at home when returning to the bel canto repertoire that I love so much.

Tell us about your “raucously well-received National Anthem” at the Baltimore Orioles playoff opener!
Performing the National Anthem for the Baltimore Orioles is one of the more fun things I get to do each year. I’m honored to have been asked to sing the anthem for their Opening Day for the past 5 seasons. It’s not often that one gets the opportunity to sing for 50,000 people, and it’s amazing what the response has been to hearing a classical singer perform their rendition of the anthem for the biggest day of the year at Camden Yards. My friends at Camden Yards know that I am only a phone call away!

Rolando with his brother Kristofer Sanz and composer Stephen Schwartz. Photo by Salamon Watkinson.
Rolando with his brother Kristofer Sanz and composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz. Photo by Salamon Watkinson.

You are Artistic Director of Young Artists of America, which you co-founded with your brother, conductor Kristofer Sanz. Tell us about this organization and what in your upbringing helped produce two accomplished classical musicians.
One of the accomplishments that I am most proud of is founding Young Artists of America with my brother, Kristofer. We are both professional musicians for a living, and we see it an honor to be able to give back to younger musicians and share lessons with them from the professional world. Young Artists of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization offering world-class training to gifted and committed young performing artists in a professional, nurturing, and collaborative environment. Through mentorship and individualized instruction from renowned artists, students work collaboratively to perform fully orchestrated works of music-theatre in state-of-the-art venues such as Strathmore, where YAA resides as the arts center’s first Affiliate. YAA offers students the opportunities to be work closely with leading artists, including most recently, Stephen Schwartz, Jason Robert Brown, Andrew Lippa, Jeanine Tesori, Steven Lutvak, and more!

Kristofer and I grew up in a home that always had music playing in the background. Our parents are both from Cuba so there was always salsa music playing in the house. However, no one in the family is a musician other than Kris and me, so we always say that something about all of those polyrhythms being the soundtrack of our childhood must have had an influence on both of us becoming musicians, Kristofer a conductor, and myself a singer. The best part is that now we get to work together regularly at YAA, a dream come true for two brothers who love making music together!