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Rogelio Riojas Nolasco: Weaver of Opera Dreams



By Natalie Taylor


San Miguel de Allende has long been known for its wonderful classical musical culture, going as far back as the 19th century. On May 11, 1873 Mexico’s premier soprano, Angela Peralta sang for the opening of Rigoletto, at a newly constructed theater in town. The building on Mesones 82, chose to use her name and it has been serving the community as Teatro Angela Peralta, ever since. In 1978, Carmen Masip founded the Chamber Music Festival in San Miguel de Allende, which has brought some of the best international musicians for the past four decades.


Then in 2019 the San Miguel MetOpera Trust began its annual auditions for the best young Mexican opera singers, whom they help achieve international standing. The Bel Canto Institute is another San Miguel de Allende venue that offers an annual competition for the best young singers, and promotes their careers with excellent coaching.

These are examples of the classical music scene here, and now there is another—Operisima Mexico, based in San Miguel de Allende. Founded in 2023 by Maestro Rogelio Riojas Nolasco, this is a year round studio dedicated to developing classical singing talents, and providing them with the skills needed for a successful career in the world of opera.


Rogelio Riojas Nolasco was born in Mexico City, and studied music in the United States. He began his musical career as a pianist, and was accompanying opera singers in San Antonio, Texas at the age of thirteen. He became a vocal coach for artists in the field of opera, and gained a stellar reputation with 40 years of experience in the refining of vocal talents throughout the world. He has worked with students of the finest opera houses in Europe, and has seen many of them achieve great international success.


After spending over thirty years outside of Mexico, Riojas returned to Mexico City ten years ago to become the artistic director of the Bellas Artes Studio. During his four years there, 2014 to 2018, he achieved great success in preparing young opera singers for the world of opera. He imposed European standards and presented up to eight operas per year. Already known for his coaching in Europe, Riojas gained great recognition for his work in Mexico. When he came to Queretaro, where his brother lives, he realized that San Miguel de Allende was an ideal place for the development of a similar program. With Jack Kelly, who serves as the executive director, Riojas has brought a new, and exciting year-round opera experience to San Miguel. They have a wonderful venue in a beautiful property called Hacienda Operisima Mexico in town, filled with open spaces and greenery.


As opera coach Riojas prepares his students in a variety of ways. He teaches them what they will not learn in school—how to become a true professional as an international opera singer. Through his workshop he concentrates on stage and body movement, and the correct handling of foreign language: French, Italian, German, and English. He teaches his students what he knows to be the essential elements of the profession, and expects full commitment from them. “If I help you,” he says, “it must be all, or nothing.” What he teaches them may not be what they want to learn, but it is what they need; it is a matter of facing reality and doing what is necessary to achieve the dream. Without the right coaching, a great voice can be left behind. Then he adds: “Voice is only part of it. The rest is ‘vocacion’—the calling, the profession.”


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