Subway opera singer Roberto Esquivelzeta dreams of singing at the Met someday. But in the meantime, he is learning to love his underground audience in New York. So he wants to share with them the beauty of music for free.
He has a dream to perform opera at the Met someday, but for now he loves his underground audience.
“You never know who’s going to hear you singing in the subway,” says Roberto Esquivelzeta.
The opera tenor moved to New York two years ago. He now has an agent and is part of an opera company. But the company is under development, so in the meantime he has to sing in the subway. The subway is stressful for anyone, but it is especially challenging for an artist. There’s noise. Pushing. Unbearable temperatures.
It’s hard to make yourself heard there. But he likes to do it.
Performing in the subway has caused his voice to be stronger and fuller so people can hear him over the rumbling of trains, the click-clack of heels hitting the ground and loud banter between commuters. But what he really appreciates are the comments from people who pause from their daily commute to listen to him perform, some of whom are very moved and inspired by the opera music. And he appreciates any thanks they can give to him.
Sometimes he gets more than $100 in donations for performing. Other times he only gets a few bucks. But he wants to offer his singing to New York for free. And whether New Yorkers stop to listen to his voice or pass him by, he wants to serve as a reminder that beauty is there.
“Love surrounds us,” he says. “You just have to listen to see.”
A subway opera singer dreams of singing above ground at the Met, but is learning to love the underground audience. [link]
Fine cut transcript:
It is aggressive, noisy, sometimes super cold, sometimes super hot. Performing in the subway has been the most difficult task ever for me because it’s the noisiest place I’ve ever sang in.
I’m an opera tenor and I’m a part right now of what is going to be the American National Opera Company. Now, that company is under development. So that’s why I’ve been forced to sing in the subway.
I would love to sing in certain places like Carnegie Hall or the Met of course.
You know what? If one day I turn 70 or 80 years old, I prefer to say I tried than to say I could have done it.
Way back last spring, the guy, an old Japanese gentleman came and he told me that his wife passed away six months earlier and he said, “I was going to throw myself onto the tracks.” But he said after listening, “You know, I don’t want to die anymore.”
So that really moved me because, you know, I said, “I’m doing something for the people.”
This city, people are always in a rush. Everything is just money, money, money, money, money. Time, time, time, time, time. And I like to think that I offer them a little beauty.