Javier Camarena is arguably today's top Mexican tenor, a successor to Plácido Domingo and his major role in the musical life of that country. A specialist in bel canto Italian opera and the music of Mozart, Camarena has appeared on major stages in North America and Europe.
He was born on March 26, 1976, in Xalapa in Mexico's Veracruz state. His father was a technician at a nuclear plant. He studied the flute in high school, but made plans for a career in electrical engineering. At the University of Veracruz and then at the University of Guanajuato, however, he switched his major to music and studied voice with Francisco Araiza, Armando Mora, and María Eugenia Sutti. His debut came as Tonio in a production of Donizetti's La fille du régiment at Mexico City's Palacio de Bellas Artes, and it didn't take him long to gain international attention as he appeared in several more operas there. He joined the Zurich Opera as an ensemble member in 2007 and has sung popular Rossini roles there, including Count Almaviva in Rossini's The Barber of Seville. He has also sung roles in Verdi's Falstaff and Otello, as well as various French roles. Camarena has made guest appearances at the Vienna State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Paris Opera, and other major houses in Europe and North America. He has appeared in orchestral-vocal works with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Salzburg Festival Orchestra, as well as several Mexican orchestras. The 2018-2019 season brought Camarena's debut at the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona. In addition to numerous operatic recordings, Camarena was signed to the Decca label and released the recital Contrabandista in 2018; the album inaugurated the label's "Mentored by Bartoli" series and featured a duet with that mezzo-soprano. Camarena is a winner of the Personality of the Year award in Esquire magazine's Latin American edition.