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Let Your Heart Sing

Pablo Talamante Shares his Love of Music and Country

Pablo Talamante is Midlothian’s very own local celebrity. Trained as an operatic singer, meaning one who studies the bel canto vocal technique, Pablo has over 30 years of stage experience in both Concert and Opera in the US and abroad.

This award-winning, Spanish-Mexican singer and actor has built an impressive resume! He has been requested by the White House to perform for the last six US presidents, sung for her majesty Queen Sofia of Spain at the United Nations, worked alongside world-renowned conductors and pianists, and acted in commercials, tv shows, and big-screen movies such as Conan the Destroyer and Dune while living in Mexico City.

Across his 27 years as a military singer, Pablo also served in the U.S. Army on an active duty status and was highly decorated, obtaining the rank of Master Sergeant (MSG). During his military career, he was always a “best foot forward” singer for the Army and functioned as a musical ambassador of song to many foreign dignitaries. This includes performing our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” hundreds of times at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, the Justice Department, the White House, and many other federal entities.

His retirement from active duty in February 2021 has allowed him to devote himself full-time to his singing and acting career. Pablo recently met with Midlothian Lifestyle to discuss his experiences as a tenor and what the art of opera means to him.

LAUREL: WHEN DID YOU BEGIN SINGING FOR OTHERS?

PABLO: I have been singing in one form or another since I was seven years old. My father would ask me to sing for his friends before the boxing matches on tv on Saturday evenings. I remember those evenings as if it was yesterday. One of those fights had the invincible Cassius Clay (a.k.a. Muhammad Ali), as we knew him then.

Later on, I would enter singing contests in middle school. I eventually played in a high school rock band and also in a country music trio. I was a vocalist with both groups while I played the guitar, piano, and drums. It was not until my senior year of high school that I started singing in a local restaurant as the evening entertainment showcase. That was my first professional engagement in front of an audience that had paid to hear me sing. It was terrifying in the beginning!

LAUREL: HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR LOVE OF OPERA?

PABLO: Opera was not on my radar whatsoever until the age of 20 when I attended Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème at the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) in Mexico City because the tenor was a friend of mine from my hometown in Mexico. I could not believe what I had just witnessed. Here before my eyes was the complete art form in one venue! There was painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, music, theater, literature, and dance! I quite vividly remember how my life changed in a matter of minutes and thought to myself, “This is it! This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

LAUREL: WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING AN OPERATIC TENOR?

PABLO: The feeling of stepping out on the theater stage, giving life to a character other than my own, and to sincerely apply everything that I had studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Drama School to that character on stage, was the most rewarding feeling I have ever had.

The voice is a delicate yet strong instrument if guided and cared for wisely. When the singing voice relies on the diaphragmatic breath, it takes on a life of its own, an identity separate from my own. It works perfectly when left alone, without manipulation or tension. Two delicate membranes vibrating, producing a range of sounds throughout the musical scale that makes the audience feel a range of emotions unequal to any other musical instrument.

The human voice is unique in that sense because the singer is the actual instrument, and how we treat ourselves, how we live our lives and treat others, reflects what sound we will emit from our voice. The upper register of a tenor is also exhilarating. The high notes produce a pulsating-throbbing rush of adrenaline in my body as well as those in the audience who experience the vibration, the excitement! Back in the day, the Italians called that feeling, “the cry of the wolf.” A sound emitted with abandonment. Singers such as Franco Corelli, Mario del Monaco, Giuseppe Giacomini, Luciano Pavarotti and others had it.

LAUREL: IN WHAT WAYS DOES OPERA SPEAK THROUGH YOU?

PABLO: My journey as an operatic singer has been my entire life’s love. Our life is in a way an opera; it contains several acts (chapters), some acts have tragedies in it, other acts a bit of comedy, some have intense romantic episodes while others bring despair or confusion. Yet other acts bring immense happiness. How we live our own stories will determine how successful we, the composers of that playwright/opera, are.

When I perform an Aria (a song depicting a self-reflecting moment during the opera), the character takes life. At that very moment, the character is alive and speaks through the voice. We, the singers, have to give way to the character in order to be successful in rendering true existence to that character.

LAUREL: TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS AN OPERA SINGER.

PABLO: I have stepped onto many major operatic stages, either with professional or amateur companies of opera and/or orchestras in the US and abroad. Every time is a different experience, a new sensation, a new adventure, a new journey of character. It’s like being born again every time. It’s a fascinating journey that takes you away from our daily, and often mundane, life. It’s an escape. One gets lots of endorphins, a dopamine feeling, a rejuvenating sensation. It happens almost immediately as the music begins. It is as if all of a sudden, the character is alive, and there is a shift in the time continuum. The music transports you into a different realm. It’s quite an amazing sensation. In a way, it’s an addicting career. Especially when it’s done well and the audience explodes with applause, affirming a life’s long work has been worth it.

LAUREL: WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

PABLO: My proudest achievement is not one per se, but many small ones. A singer, and a musician in general, is only as successful as his last performance. One can have years of experience and an extensive repertoire “resume” throughout a career, but the audience remembers the last time the performer was heard. Was he or she good? That is what makes a musical career so different than other professions.

It’s not about me, but about the story of a song, a character well played. Sincerity and humility are the core of what determines a singer’s degree of success. The public is very aware of a singer that is in love with him or herself rather than the message. I am a conduit of music and song, a messenger. That is all that I am while I sing.

I would say that my proudest achievement is perhaps acknowledging my limitations as a performer, to stay true to the art form. I remember singing in front of the entire body of government in the Emancipation Hall inside the U.S. Capitol some years ago at a congressional gold medal recipient ceremony. At the end of my performance, everyone stood up and applauded with a tremendous thundering noise of cheers and accolades. Their applause went on for several minutes. I remember thinking, “I have done my job well,” and was proud of the effect that my singing brought to every individual there that day.

LAUREL: HOW DO YOU SHARE YOUR LOVE OF OPERA LOCALLY?

PABLO: February is the month of Love. I love living in Virginia and the Richmond surrounding areas such as Midlothian and Powhatan. Many colleagues of mine seek success in major metropolitan cities such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, etc. where they can receive larger exposure to their singing. I love performing at beautiful residences here in Richmond during private dinners, beautiful weddings, and other events where I am hired to sing. My song repertoire is very extensive, and I sing in several languages. I offer a variety of programs from which to choose.

I love the United States and have also volunteered to sing for local charities and nonprofits to support their message. Some of them include the VCU Health Orchestra, The Fallen Outdoors, (Iraq and Afghanistan vets), the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. American Inns of Court, and the Virginia Executive Mansion. During my years as a military singer, I had the honor to perform during presidential events and ceremonies such as for Purple Heart recipients, Holocaust Days of Remembrance survivors, and WWII units including the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, the 65th Infantry Regiment “The Borinqueneers,” and the American Indian “Code Talkers.” I have been there, witnessing and partaking in history, performing for such amazing men and women of this honorable Nation we call the United States.

Learn more about Pablo and explore his upcoming shows at: pablotalamante.com

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