Argentine rising star Marcelo Puente makes his Opera Australia debut as Don José in Carmen, opposite mezzo Rinat Shaham, in February. He has made several important house debuts in recent years, including singing opposite soprano Ermonela Jaho in Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House (2017). A lirico-spinto tenor, he has made his name singing Pinkerton, Don José, and the title role of Verdi’s Don Carlo

Marcelo PuenteMarcelo Puente. Photo © Helen Blanco

Three operas you love most? 

Don CarlosTurandot, and Andrea Chenier

Three favourite tenors?

Franco Corelli, Giuseppe Giacomini, Mario del Monaco

Three favourite sopranos?

Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Dame Joan Sutherland

Most memorable musical experience as an audience member and why?

Fedora from Umberto Giordano at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires in August 1998. Why? It was the first opera I have ever seen live and it was unforgettably beautiful. After that, I promised myself to become an opera singer.

Three operas you could happily never hear again? 

Il mondo della luna by Joseph Haydn, Wozzeck by Alban Berg and Die Soldaten by Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Even though I know they are masterpieces, I need romantic music!

Most embarrassing moment onstage?

Two years ago, I was in the last show of a Carmen performance and in the very last moment of the last duet, I moved very fast kneeling and I heard my pants rip on the back, showing my underwear! These things happen…

A conductor, past or present, that you’d like to perform with? 

From today, Riccardo Muti, and from the past, Tullio Serafin.

Most overrated composer?

I feel that anyone who has the inspiration to write music has to be respected, so I cannot call a composer overrated. It is more a question of what music moves me more than others…

Most underrated composer? 

Riccardo Zandonai, but also others from that time! Pietro Mascagni is remembered only for Cavalleria Rusticana, but he wrote many more fascinating works. Umberto Giordano too!

Three opera characters you’d like to have dinner with? 

A tenor evening discussing love, destiny, political ideas, songs and poetry with Manrico (Il trovatore), Don Alvaro (La forza del destino) and Radames (Aida).

A recording to be stranded with on a desert island?

Any recordings of my wife singing Spanish opera!

Your proudest moment onstage? 

My debut at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in March 2017 – very proud!

If you weren’t an opera singer, what would you do?

I would be a chef!

The last movie that touched you?

Perfect Strangers by Álex de la Iglesia.

If you could ask any composer to write an opera for you, who would it be? 

The great Giacomo Puccini.

Your favourite food? 

The best Argentinian “asado” with my family and friends.

Three favourite places in the world

Andalucía, Córdoba, Madrid

Three guilty pleasures

Dulce de leche, good French champagne, and a properly made tiramisu

Three favourite books 

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker, Marlene by Florencia Bonelli and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Marcelo Puente is Don José in Opera Australia’s Carmen, which runs from February 10 – March 23. 

Tickets