Q & A with Baritone Luis Ledesma

November 12, 2021 | By Opera Colorado | Q & A, Tosca
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Luis Lesdesma in costume as Baron Scarpia in Tosca smolders at the camera. He is wearing an ornate black top coat and his shiny black hair is pulled back with a black ribbon.
Baritone Luis Ledesma as Baron Scarpia in Opera Colorado’s 2021 Production of Tosca in The Ellie Caulkins Opera House Photo: Opera Colorado/Matthew Staver

By: Angelica DiIorio

Baritone Luis Ledesma is making his mainstage debut at Opera Colorado, following his performance in Canciones de Nuestras Tierras (Songs of Our Homelands) at Denver Botanical Gardens this past May. A true performer, Luis can easily switch between his role as the evil and powerful Baron Scarpia in Tosca to a down-to-earth individual. Singing has been an integral part of his life as he was born into a musical family. His passion has helped create a remarkable musical career, including playing Scarpia ten times! Learn more about Luis’s story and his role in Tosca.

Tickets for Puccini’s Tosca start at just $35>>

How Did Music Play into Your Family Life and Childhood?

I was around music even before I was born. My father is a mariachi singer, and my mother would help him memorize music when she was carrying me. I used to kick every time he sang a high note. I learned to play classical guitar at sixteen. I never thought I could be an opera singer, but I knew I belonged on stage.

Baritone Luis Ledesma stand powerfully at center stage, flanks on either side by choir boys in red church robes. The set depicts the grand Sant’Andrea della Valle cathedral in Rome.
Baritone Luis Ledesma makes his grand entrance in act one of Opera Colorado’s 2021 production of Tosca.
Photo: Opera Colorado/Matthew Staver

What Was Your Introduction to Opera?

Luis Ledesma (Scarpia) stands behind Melissa Citro (Tosca) and sings threateningly at her.
Baritone Luis Ledesma portrays the villainous Baron Scarpia in Opera Colorado’s 2021 production of Puccini’s Tosca.

I went to the conservatory at eighteen to study music, and my life changed. A professor asked if anyone would be interested in a career in opera, and I was the only one who raised my hand. I went to Europe when I was twenty-one to study, and everything was a dream come true. I went to France, Spain, Italy, and Austria. I returned to Mexico in 1989 and met Stefano de Peppo, my cast member in this production of ToscaI, when we were both in the chorus together. I studied in Venezuela and eventually met my teacher Cars Serrano when I was back in Mexico, who was the key to making me the human being I am now. We find people that really change who we are, and that gentleman gave me the tools to become the artist I am today. He sent me to Philadelphia to study on a scholarship. I even met my wife there.

A company is nothing without its people, and there is a really beautiful family here.

You Have Played Scarpia Several Times—Tell Us a Little about the Character and What You Bring to It.

Baritone Luis Ledesma and director Louisa Muller stand in Opera Colorado's rehearsal space talking about the character of Scarpia.
Baritone Luis Ledesma and director Louisa Muller rehearse for Opera Colorado’s 2021 production of Puccini’s Tosca

Scarpia is one of the prime roles for every baritone. I am only a villain on the stage, not outside of the stage. That is the interesting part of the theatre—I do not need to be a killer to play one. You can see the charm, the power of this character. I have explored the role’s maliciousness and tyranny, but I want to bring some sophistication to it this time in the way Scarpia walks and stands. Once you enter this role, you feel more powerful and taller, which is something Louisa Muller, our director, brought to my attention. It is important to remember his power and assertiveness. I also have to remember the character behaves in ways that I never would, so we always need to be very careful how we stage some of his more malicious actions.

I felt I would never sing again, but now that we are back, rehearsal is really a joy.

How Does It Feel to Be Back Doing a Full Production of Opera?

It is an amazing feeling after eighteen months of being an artist without a stage. For me, it is a dream and a blessing to be back. I felt I would never sing again, but now that we are back, rehearsal is really a joy. I love being in this beautiful theatre and working with Melissa and Rafael. I really appreciate that we have weeks to prepare for the performances and adjust to the altitude and time in between each performance to recuperate. A company is nothing without its people, and there is a really beautiful family here.

If you loved getting to know Luis in this post, you will love seeing him perform live and in person! Tickets for Opera Colorado’s November production of Puccini’s Tosca are on sale now>>

What else would you like to know about Luis and his process? Would you enjoy playing a villain onstage? Did you see Luis at Canciones des Nuestras Tierras at Denver Botanic Gardens this past May?

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