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Opera Stars Concert: Maria Jose Montiel

Friday, November 16, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

The Opera Stars Concert Series kicks off on November 16, 2018 with a concert by Spanish mezzo-soprano María José Montiel, and Ramón Tebar, piano, with a special appearance by cellist Angel Luis Quintana who plays a violoncello J. Guadagnini “Il Soldato” from 1800, donated by the Columbus Foundation.

Montiel first gained fame for her exceptional portrayal of Carmen, and has enjoyed a prolific and long lasting career, singing in the most prestigious theaters and concert halls in the world, and collaborating with such luminaries as Zubin Mehta,  Riccardo Chailly and Placido Domingo.

Acclaimed Spanish conductor and Opera Naples’ artistic director, Maestro Ramón Tebar, began his career as a pianist and so brings his exceptional musicality to this performance.

This concert is in collaboration with the Columbus Foundation and will include an appearance by cellist Angel Luis Quintana.

Please join us for an evening of beautiful French, Spanish and Brazilian songs as well as beloved operatic arias. VIP section tickets ($95) include backstage post-performance Champagne reception to meet the artists and mingle with fellow opera lovers!


A recipient of the 2015 National Music Prize by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and celebrated by magazines such as Opera News (USA), Ópera Actual (Spain), Opéra Magazine (France) and L’Opera (Italy), María José Montiel is regarded as one of the great mezzo-sopranos of today. In 2014 and 2015 she performed Carmen in Israel and Italy conducted by Zubin Mehta, a character that she has sung in the most prominent opera houses of Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Japan, China, and the United States. It was Bizet’s gypsy that transformed Ms. Montiel into an international sensation and her habitual collaborations with Riccardo Chailly on music such as Verdi´s Requiem (Vienna, Frankfurt, Milan, Budapest, Tokyo and Leipzig) have consolidated her reputation.

In July 2015, Ms. Montiel debuted the role of Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, again alongside maestro Mehta, and the role of Dalila in Saint-Säens' Samson et Dalila in Mexico. She sang Verdi's Requiem with La VERDI in Milan as part of the events celebrating the end of the Milan Expo Milano 2015, debuted at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples with Carmen, also conducted by Mehta. In 2016, she gave a recital in Zaragoza for Ópera Aragón, performed in the world première of María Moliner by Antoni Parera, at Teatro de La Zarzuela in Madrid, gave two concerts with the Orquesta de Valencia performing Ravel's Shéhérazade and a selection of French Opera Arias and gave recitals in Asturias, Festival Lírico Ópera in Benicàsim, Festival de Segovia, Festival Chopin de Valldemossa (Majorca), and at Festival de Santander. Future engagements include a concert with the Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid, Edgar, by Puccini, in Madrid, Mahler's Symphony N. 3 with the Sinfónica de Baleares and Carmen at the Florida Grand Opera in Miami.

Born in Madrid, Ms. Montiel graduated in vocal performance at the Royal Conservatoire, specializing with Pedro Lavirgen and Ana María Iriarte before moving to Vienna to further her training with Sena Jurinac and O. Miljakovic. She studied Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid, where she also gained a postgraduate diploma in the History and Science of Music.

María José Montiel has had a prolific and long-lasting career, having sung in the most prestigious concert halls and theatres in the world, such as Carnegie Hall in New York, La Scala in Milan, the Kennedy Center in Washington, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, the Musikverein, Konzerthaus and Staatsoper in Vienna, the NAC Ottawa, Music Hall Cincinnati, the Doelen in Rotterdam, Budapest Opera House, Sydney Town Hall, Teatro Regio di Parma, Teatro Malibran in Venice, Pisa Opera House, the Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Bregenz Festival, La Fenice in Venice, the Trieste Teatro Verdi, NHK Hall in Tokyo, Staatsoper Bern, Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall and Opera House, La Monnaie in Brussels, the New National Theatre in Tokyo, Paris Opéra National, Teatro Real and the National Auditorium in Madrid, Gran Teatre del Liceu and Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, Palau de la Música y Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia and practically all the opera houses and concert halls in Spain.

As well as being considered one of the greatest singers of Carmen of the current time, her repertoire also includes the operas Aida (Amneris), Les contes d’Hoffmann (Giulietta) La Favorita (Leonora), La clemenza di Tito (Sesto), Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte (Dorabella), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina) and Luisa Miller (Federica), which she has performed in Bologna, Venice, Pisa, Livorno, Lucca, Trieste, Parma, Strasburg, Cologne, Paris, Vienna, Tokyo, Barcelona and Madrid.

As well as collaborating repeatedly with Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Chailly and Placido Domingo, she has worked with other top conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Pinchas Steinberg, Miguel Angel Gomez Martinez, Daniel Oren, Garcia Navarro, Xian Zhang, Wayne Marshall, Adam Fisher, Horst Stein, John Axelrod, Charles Dutoit, Vladimir Spivakov, José Luis Lopez Cobos, John Paul Decker, Garcia Asensio, José Collado, Lawrence Foster, Odon Alonso, Janos Kovacs, Neville Marriner, Jeffrey Tate, Maurizio Benini and Jacques Delacôte, among many others.

A lover of the concert repertoire, she has been invited to give concerts by the Philharmonic Orchestras of Vienna, Buenos Aires, Helsinki and Tokyo, the Symphony Orchestras of Montreal and Cincinnati, the “Moscow Virtuosos”, the National Orchestra of France, the N.A.C. of Ottawa, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, the Arturo Toscanini Foundation, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and the Milan Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra, while in Spain she habitually collaborates with the National Orchestra of Spain, the RTVE Symphonic, the Murcia Symphonic, the Orchestra of Valencia and almost all the orchestras in Spain, embracing a wide repertoire.

Her signature concert works, fundamental to the mezzo repertoire are Les nuits d’été (Berlioz), Mahler’s Second, Third and Eighth Symphonies, Scenes from Faust (Berlioz), Requiem (Verdi), Gloria (Vivaldi), Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Stabat Mater and Misa Solemne (Rossini), Schéhérazade (Ravel), Alto Rhapsody by Brahms, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Mahler), etc. She gives special consideration to Spanish composers, having participated in the revival of the opera Pepita Jiménez (Albeniz), in the absolute premiere of Merlin (Albeniz) and in first performances of works by contemporary composers such as Ojos Verdes de Luna, by Tomas Marco and Eufonía, by Xavier Montsalvatge, as well as pieces by Cruz de Castro, Peris, Bernaola, Barce and a large portion of the Anton Garcia Abril vocal repertoire.

At the re-opening of the Teatro Real in Madrid, she sang the lead role in Manuel de Falla’s opera La Vida Breve, alongside the tenor Jaime Aragall and directed by Francisco Nieva. She also performed in Usandizaga’s Las Golondrinas alongside Vicente Sardinero and directed by José Carlos Plaza at the same theatre, where she also participated in the SGAE Centenery Gala with Montserrat Caballé and Alfredo Kraus and in the Gala to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution. She has given recitals all over the world with Plácido Domingo, also at the re-opening of the Teatro Avenida in Buenos Aires, and she performed alongside him in the zarzuela Luisa Fernanda in the premiere of the Spanish genre at La Scala in Milan, before then going on tour with this master work by Moreno Torroba to the Washington National Opera, Teatro Real de Madrid, Los Angeles Opera and the Theatre an der Wien (Vienna).

A great specialist in the Lied repertoire and Spanish and French song, she has given over a hundred recitals, mostly alongside Miguel Zanetti, and many of which have been recorded on CD. Her recordings number a total of 17 discs, for labels such as Dial, BIS, RTVE, Ensayo, Fundación Autor, Deutsche Gramophon and Stradivarius. Her CD of lieder from Brazil, Modinha, with Luiz de Moura was a finalist for a GRAMMY Award and her DVD Madrileña Bonita went gold. She was finalist for a GRAMMY for her recently re-released CD Modinha. In 2015, she released El día que me quieras, a collection of Latin American song including some of the most popular tangos, boleros, and Brazilian classics.

For the 2012 Teatro Campoamor Opera Award Ceremony, in which the most important awards of this kind in Spain are awarded every year in Oviedo, Ms. Montiel was awarded the prize for her Carmen in the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, in October 2010, being the first Spanish singer to have been given a prize in this category in the history of the awards.

She has also been awarded the Lucrecia Arana award, the SGAE Federico Romero prize, the RNE Ojo Crítico award, the CEOE prize and the Spanish Coca-Cola Foundation award for best singer for "the quality of her voice, her expressive temperament and versatility of repertoire". In 2007 the Community of Madrid awarded her with the Culture Prize in the Music section.


Poème de l'amour et de la mer (Chausson) “The mezzo from Madrid translated her complex spider web of emotions into a tormented and passionate declaration of love, allowing her voice full rein, with great naturalness in the higher registers.” - Juan J Roldán, Pantalla Sonora

“The main course of the concert was the piece by Chausson, which Axelrod imprinted with his Wagnerian patina which suits it so well and to which María José Montiel adapted herself admirably, with ideal density, power, colour and expressivity for the music in which she shone, especially in the darkest and most dramatic parts.” - Diario de Sevilla

Mahler’s Symphony N.3 “The roundness of the concert was achieved with the participation of María José Montiel; undoubtedly a winning selection: and the Spanish mezzo-soprano, each time she sang, found the perfect tone for the music. This does not only apply to her great vocal technique, her affinity to the repertoire and clear diction, but also to her presence and communication with the audience, which allowed her to fill the stage beyond its capacity. If the emotion of her participation in the fourth movement had already won over the audience with her outstanding performance, it was in the fifth when the singer displayed her exquisite shading in the extreme dynamics of Es sungen drei Engel”. - Ópera Actual

María Moliner (Antoni Parera) “And María José Montiel, who fully immerses herself in the character and shows an endearing María Moliner to us up close, is able to do this not only because of her exquisite vocal work but also because of her dramatic and corporal sensitivity. There is a culmination in the final scenes, where all her lexiconic and existential baggage is stripped off to show human powerlessness in all its poetic rawness. An emotional and moving ending”. - Ultima Hora Mallorca

“And María Moliner was portrayed by María José Montiel, who makes the main character´s metamorphosis believable. She has barely a moment off stage, which of course represents a huge effort both vocally and dramatically. The mezzo- soprano gives her all in a role which she certainly treasures on her shelf of favourites, not only because of its difficulty and the great range of registers that it requires but also because, if this opera continues to tour theatres, Montiel´s performance will be the reference”. - Ara Balears

“One cannot praise María José Montiel´s performance as María Moliner enough. It also progresses, but in this case from more to much, much more, both vocally (without there being arias as such, as the singing is always declaimed, with dense and extensive text. She participates in nine of the ten scenes, with the effort that this constant presence requires) and in the acting of the character, with whom she fully identifies in all the stages of life which the opera relates. Bravo, without any reservations”. - Opera World

“The work of the Spanish mezzo-soprano María José Montiel, who also took the role of Moliner in last year´s performances, was brilliant. Montiel shows such an intense degree of identification with the character that her presence grows, an asset giving the necessary credibility to this project, which is in certain ways very transgressive”. - El Mundo

Carmen (Bizet) “The Cordoba theatre had the immense privilege of hearing one of the best Carmens in the world. We are talking about María José Montiel, whose voice appears to have been made for this role. The warm and seductive tone of her voice is blessed with incredible velvetiness and marshalled with enormous technical knowledge when it came to giving us a homogeneous display of colours in all registers, without cuts or abrupt attacks, allowing her to be a vocally unbeatable incarnation of the hapless gipsy.” - Diario de Jerez

Mahler’s Symphony N. 2 “It was in the fourth movement of the symphony that María José Montiel showed us the beautiful and androgenous colour of her mezzo voice, with no lack in delicacy and raw musicality.” - Nino Dentici, El Correo

Recital in Seville “And when the voice belongs to someone as great as María José Montiel, the theatre becomes a mysterious, magical, other worldly place, where only beauty and fullness reign. The unparalleled Spanish mezzo, accompanied supremely on the piano by Rubén Fernández Aguirre, took us to the Heaven of song in a marvellous recital, in which Spanish songs, Portuguese and Brazilian modinhas, French melodies and popular sounds were elevated to exquisiteness. Opera arias and zarzuela romances resounded with the greatest glory imaginable.” - José Luís López López, ABC Sevilla

Carmen, Flordia Grand Opera – November 2016 “Spanish mezzo Montiel in her FGO debut, appearing with a fall of untamed hair and a defiant décolletage, credibly portrays a woman who would choose death over the loss of independence. The audience members are goners the moment that saucy voice launches into the iconic melody of "Habanera" as if she were pouring some rich thick liquid from a silver chalice. Exuding a joie de vivre, Montiel's Carmen impudently rolls consonants as if her tongue were savoring a gourmet dish. Even if someone turned off the spotlight, she would glow." -SouthFlorida.com

"First and foremost, of course, Carmen needs a formidable singer in the title role, and FGO has one in María José Montiel. The Spanish mezzo-soprano effortlessly produced rich, sensual tones in the famous Habanera and Seguidilla, lowering her voice in the final renditions of the Habanera melody, in a manner that made the aria less showy and more insinuatingly intimate. In her stage manner, she communicated Carmen’s sexual mastery subtly, in the easy confidence of her walk and gestures, without the over-the-top posing and exaggeration often portrayed." -South Florida Classical Review

Concert, Palau de la Musica, Valencia – May 2016 “Montiel, the righteous winner of the 2015 National Music Prize, displayed the plethora of facets that make up her art. I do not know which of these is most outstanding: her attractive tone which is both dark and bright at the same time; the roundness of the notes in all registers of her wide tessitura and the way her voice reached every corner of the space with the right intensity; her musical and dramatic versatility which allows her to be just as convincing as the innocent Mignon, the eager Charlotte, the seductive Dalila or all in one like Scherezade and also daring like Carmen.” -El Levante

“Maria José Montiel is currently in exceptional voice. Her mezzo voice combines the dark, almost contralto tone with an unusual sweetness and flexibility. Also, her mastery of fiato means that she can play comfortably with the dynamics and project her voice with a range of colours. For example, the softness of the etherial colour of the pianissimos was outstanding.” -Las Provincias

“As well as being an exceptional singer with a beautiful, soft and dense voice, Maria Josè Montiel is also an outstanding exemplar of technique. She has excellent technique in voice placement and breathing, intense projection, always full of nuances.” -El Periodico Mediterraneo

Federica, Luisa Miller, Teatro Real 2016 “María José Montiel portrayed her role with compact density, showing the breadth of scope of her voice, which is currently in magnificent form.” - Paloma Sanz, Brío Clásica

“The mezzo María José Montiel was a real treat for the thankless role of Federica. The singer showed off her outstanding dense and full projection. She also made an impact with her sound and intention with the phrase “Io non cangiai” which precedes the duet “Dall’aule raggianti” in which she practically overshadowed Costanzo to the point of almost making him disappear at the end of the scene. She also used her voice and phrasing expertly in her scene in the second act which ends with the unusual a cappella quartet “Come celar le smanie”.”- Rubén Martínez, Codalario

“Federica is an ideal role for María José Montiel who sang very well, especially in the constancy of the quality of her low register.” - Luis Gago, El País

“The mezzo-soprano from Madrid María José Montiel, who has just triumphed as María Moliner, really got the best out of Federica, a small role but really outstanding because of the singer” - Álvaro Del Amo, El Mundo

“María José Montiel portrayed Federica with genuine temperament as well as flawless vocal ease.” - Alejandro Martínez, Platea Magazine

María Moliner (A. Parera), Teatro Zarzuela 2016 “Evidently, the musical centre is the impressive performance of mezzo-soprano María José Montiel. She is on stage at all times, she sings with enormous perfection and commitment, and she glories in the role which, although it has been written especially for her, is tremendously demanding. However, she pulls it off like the great diva that she is.” - Tómas Marco, Diario El Mundo

“María Moliner rests and lives in María José Montiel. The whole opera, music and text rests on her shoulders. She does it in such a way that it is difficult to imagine it sung by another voice. Parera Fons seems to intuit this from the beginning and grants her, as well as an almost continuous presence on stage (she only goes off on a couple of occasions), two great solo moments which coincide with the beginning and the end of the music and which summarise the entire personal evolution of the lexicographer. The way her singing unfolds, energetically, full of the initial excitement, reflecting a very particular mentality, tenacious and perservering, until the decline, choking with emotion, syllabic, and the effort to remember every word, suffering from Alzheimer´s, this is a Montiel who lives and breathes Moliner. She does. We do. It is lucky that there was such a committed artist taking the lead role in this premiere. In her last moments and with her final look at the audience, recalling her mother, her dictionary, and she herself, the mezzo once again sent shivers down our spine.” - Gonzalo Lahoz, Platea Magazine

“It is the priceless María José Montiel who is responsible, in great measure, for the opera´s success. Her voice was excellent, as usual, with great intensity in the first scene, which she knows how to maintain at all times. But she also shines as an actress: her María Moliner captivates, with her dignity, dedication and sad end, and with the mezzo- soprano´s moving performance, which, ironically, it is difficult to describe with words.” - Jesús Blanco López, Libertad Digital

“A top-notch cast, in which the great mezzo María José Montiel filled herself with that heroism which is so feminine: great generosity despite her ostracism. Montiel has a velvety voice and lots of personality. If anyone can claim to be a success, it is her...” - Jorge Fernández Guerra, El País

“María José Montiel is the consummate leading lady, she is fully engaged both vocally and dramatically and has a truly beautiful, full voice, flawless in all registers...” - Gonzalo Alonso, Beckmesser

Carmen, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli 2015 “Montiel´s Carmen is freedom made into opera... she unfurled a palette of colours which allowed her to delineante a sensual Carmen, full of detail, of pure, melodious filigree, with unforgettable moments such as the return to 'amour est enfant de Bohéme' after the Seguidilla, with a last 'prends garde à toi' which has remained in the aural memory of Naples” - Gonzalo Lahoz, Platea Magazine

“The conductor accompanied the soloists with a firm hand, achieving great complicity with the orchestra and the leading lady: María José Montiel, who gave it her all on stage, with unique and minutely shaded phrasing dedicated to a role which she knows through and through and which she knows how to respect and when to unfold” - Pablo Meléndez-Haddad, ABC

“At the San Carlo, María José is Carmen! Forget Milan, forget La Scala, this year opera can be found in Naples at the Teatro San Carlo. Get this name well into your heads: María José Montiel. She is Carmen, she is Parthenope. You are in Naples, but in reality you have been transported to Seville. Now imagine her coming out, in her heels, crushing the grains of sand at the gate of the bull pen leading to the square. It is there, and from that exact place where the acoustics are perfect, where she brings the most beautiful and seductive Habanera that you have ever heard to life. Close your eyes. Let her voice get under your skin. Try, if you can, to make contact with Carmen´s soul. Now full of sunshine, now dark. Sombre too. Try, if you can, to be men. In front of you is a woman. The woman. Ready for anything. Free and authentic. Dare, if you can, to challenge her. Offer up your chest to her wildness and temperament.” - Michele Fronterrè, Formiche

La Gioconda, Opéra Bastille, Paris – May 2013 “The mezzo-soprano María José Montiel’s emotional La Cieca was quite an event.” -Christian Merlin, Le Figaro

“The Spanish mezzo María José Montiel has a voice with a warm tone and moving phrasing which suits the character of La Cieca perfectly”. -Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde

“Blessed with an enviable tone and legato, María José Montiel brought the role of La Cieca to the top level, with an impeccable line.” -David Verdier, AnaClase.com

“Homogeneity in Maria José Montiel’s La Cieca, in impeccable voice in all her registers.” - Didier van Moere, ConcertoNet

“Extremely beautiful was the voice of María José Montiel in her aria Voce di donna o d’angelo.” - Gérard Mannoni, AltaMusica

“The only really moving and perfectly delineated female character was Maria José Montiel’s La Cieca, with a beautiful and deep voice.” -Bruno Serrou, Classique d’aujourd’hui

“Maria José Montiel’s La Cieca was outstanding and gave us the best moments of the evening, with a broad and finely projected voice, never excessive or histrionic, but full of emotion.” -Chantal Cazaux, L’Avant-Scène Opéra

Samson et Dalila. Ópera de Nuevo León, Monterrey August 2015 ”The night undoubtedly belonged to Montiel, who was a seductive, vengeful Dalila. Her vibrant voice, with polished tones in the lower register, well positioned high notes and extraordinarily beautiful phrasing, shone in every one of her arias, especially in the famous Mon Coeur.” -El Norte

”Something which undoubtedly stood out and excited the ears of the audience was the Spanish mezzo-soprano María José Montiel’s performance.” -El Horizonte


Friday, November 16, 2018
7:30 pm
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Opera Naples


Opera Naples
2408 Linwood Avenue
Naples, 34112 United States
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