Federico De Michelis was studying piano in a conservancy in Buenos Aires when a friend asked if he'd like to tag along to his choir rehearsal. The conductor at that rehearsal said De Michelis might as well join in the vocals as long as he was there, and a discovery was made that changed the course of a life.
De Michelis began studying voice and opera, went on to the Opera Studio of Teatro Argentino de La Plata and then to the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain, and is now in Houston and part of the Houston Grand Opera's Studio Artists group, after placing third in the 2015 Eleanor McCollum Competition Concert of Arias.
This isn’t the first time for De Michelis to be in the United States – he lived in California with his family from ages 12 to 15 – and he is very glad to be back. During HGO's fall Studio Showcase, the bass-baritone will be singing three selections from The Marriage of Figaro.
During HGO's upcoming season, De Michelis will be performing various smaller roles with the professional company, but the Studio experience gives him the chance to sing lead roles as well as develop his talents, he says.
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“Figaro is my study role for this year,” he says, adding that he'll not only be doing it in studio, but taking on the role of Antonio in the professional performance, which will give him a chance to observe international artist Adam Plachetka in the Figaro role. “You have very good coaches, very good teachers and very good pianists,” he says of HGO’s studio program.
De Michelis is being very careful with his voice, keeping to light, young bass-baritone roles, mainly in the music of Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti.
“Even though I like other things as well, this is what fits me now the best, I think. You have to be patient and not sing the wrong things at the wrong time and destroy your voice and your career. ” His favorite part of opera: “I like the stories. Of course the music, but if it’s not working with the story, then it’s not working for me. That’s what makes it so particular, so different.”
Performances of HGO's Studio Artists are scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, September 10 and Saturday, September 12 at the Wortham Theater Center, Cullen Theater, 550 Prairie. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit hgo.org. Free for subscribers and $15 mezzanine-level seats for non-subscribers.