More about the Artists in 'Romeo & Juliet' Bios of the artists in "Romeo & Juliet" from Houston Grand Opera.
NPR logo More about the Artists in 'Romeo & Juliet'

More about the Artists in 'Romeo & Juliet'

From Houston Grand Opera

Soprano Ana Maria Martinez also starred in a Houston Grand Opera production of Puccini's Turandot. hide caption

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Ramón Vargas first appeared in America as a substitute for Luciano Pavarotti at the Metroplitan Opera. hide caption

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Ramon Vargas and Ana Maria Martinez star as the title chacters in Romeo and Juliet, in a production from Houston's Wortham Theater Center.


Soprano (Juliet)

The young Puerto Rican soprano Ana Maria Martinez has won prizes including the Pepita Embil Award, the Placido Domingo International Voice Competition, and first prize at the Eleanor McCollum Awards, and she has performed in leading roles at major opera companies around the world.

Martinez has appeared as Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni at Covent Garden, Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme at the Vienna State Opera, and Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata at both Covent Garden and Houston Grand Opera. Her appearances in Houston include Adina in Donizetti's Elixir of Love as well as Juliet in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet. Among her 2006-2007 engagements are new productions of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra and Luisa Miller at the Paris Opera.

Martinez has also made numerous recordings, including the Latin Grammy-winning recording of Albeniz's opera Merlin, with Placido Domingo, and the DVD release Spanish Nights with violinist Sarah Chang, Domingo, and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Ramon Vargas

Tenor (Romeo)

Ramon Vargas began singing in church at age nine, as a soloist in the Boys' Choir of the Basilica of Guadalupe in his native Mexico City. He later pursued musical studies at the Cardenal Miranda Institute of Music and Arts. After winning the Carlo Morelli National Vocal Competition in 1982, he made his debut in Haydn's Lo Speziale in Monterrey, Mexico. Conductor Eduardo Mata gave him his first important roles as Fenton in Verdi's Falstaff in 1983, and as Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni in 1984. Two years later, Vargas won the Enrico Caruso Tenor Competition in Milan, Italy.

In 1992, Vargas made his first appearance in the United States when the Metropolitan Opera invited him to substitute for Luciano Pavarotti as Edgardo in Donizetti's Lucia, opposite June Anderson. In 1993 he made his debut at La Scala in Milan, again portraying Fenton in Falstaff, with Riccardo Muti conducting. Vargas returned to the Metropolitan for the opening of the 1994-1995 season, as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto.

Ramon Vargas has portrayed more than fifty leading roles on stage, mostly from the bel canto and romantic repertoire (Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini). He has also appeared in Verdi's La Traviata and Don Carlo as well as Massenet's Werther, Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, Gounod's Faust, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Puccini's La Boheme, among many others.


Ana Maria Martinez (Juliet); Ramon Vargas (Romeo); Nikolay Didenko (Friar Lawrence); Judith Christin (Gertrude); Patricia Risley (Stephano); Arturo Chacon-Cruz (Tybalt); Brian Shircliffe (Paris); Joshua Winograde (Count Capulet); Daniel Belcher (Mercutio); Joshua Hopkins (Gregorio)