“Prieto has the sort of looks that advertising executives dream of, matched to an appealing sincerity. The voice is soft, tender, evenly produced – a beautiful instrument that projects well.”
- Andrew Clark / Financial Times
Ever since he was unanimously awarded the highly coveted distinction of first prize in Placido Domingo’s 2008 Operalia Competition, Joel Prieto has become one of the most sought-after and exciting artists of his generation, singing in some of the most prestigious opera houses and concert venues around the world. The Spanish born singer, brought up in Puerto Rico, captivates his audiences, bringing depth and subtlety to his leading roles, infusing his characters with vitality, elegance and beauty.
Coming from a family of artists Joel Prieto showed interest in music at a very early age. His parents are writers; one of his sisters is a painter and the other sister is a photographer.
When he was five years old, he began to learn the violin. One year later he joined the San Juan Children’s Choir, a musical institution of exceptional renown in Puerto Rico founded by cellist and conductor Pablo Casals and Evy Lucio, who had trained with the Vienna Boys’ Choir for many years. It was in this choir in San Juan that he was exposed to different styles of music from the earliest Gregorian chants to modern music. He travelled worldwide as a member of the choir and during this period, in Puerto Rico in 1991, at the age of eight, he took part in the children’s scene of the second act of the opera La bohème with the celebrated soprano Mirella Freni and conductor Roberto Abbado. So great was the impact of this experience that Joel knew from then onwards he wanted to be an opera singer and he has not looked back since.
After completing his studies at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, in 2004 he became a Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Soon afterwards, he was selected for the Opera Studio of the Opera National de Paris “Atelier Lyrique” during the 2005-2006 season when he sang in the world premiere of Les aveugles composed by Dayer and performed in Paris and at the Almeida Theatre in London. As a member of the Atelier Lyrique he also sang the role of Lorenz in Lehar’s Frühling at the Opera Comique in Paris.
Joel Prieto’s professional opera debut came in 2006 when he played Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. The young tenor then became a permanent member of the German operatic house from 2006-2008, singing roles like Tybalt in Romeo et Juliette and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor. In 2006 he sang the role of Arlecchino in Pagliacci and in 2007 he performed his first Conte d’Almaviva in a production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia both with the Opera de Puerto Rico.
In 2008, a series of events marked the beginning of his international career. He joined Maestro Placido Domingo in the Zarzuela Luisa Fernanda at the Theater an der Wien with soprano Patricia Petibon. That summer he also took part in the first Young Singers Project at the Salzburg Festival, sponsored by Montblanc.
Joel Prieto’s big breakthrough came later in 2008 when he won three prizes at Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition: First Prize, the Zarzuela Prize and the Culturarte Prize.
Since then he has made some notable debuts around the world.
In 2009 debuted in the role of Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte at Palau de les Arts in Valencia alongside soprano Barbara Frittoli, and then in the same role at the Washington National Opera, the Theatre du Luxembourg, the Palm Beach Opera and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. He also sang Arlecchino in Pagliacci at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago, in Chile in the same year.
Joel had a highly successful role and house debut as Don Ottavio in 2010 in an epic production of Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival directed by Claus Guth and conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin, a role he was invited to sing again in 2011.
He made his debut at the Berlin Staatsoper in 2011 as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.
Joel also achieved overwhelming success in the role of Fenton at the London Royal Opera House’s debut in May 2012 in a new production of Falstaff broadcast live on big screens around the UK, directed by Robert Carsen and conducted by Maestro Daniele Gatti. He also performed as Fenton at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, and the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse.
On the concert stage, Joel sang the tenor part in Mozart’s C Minor Mass for the opening of the Salzburg Festival in 2010 and took part in a Benefit Concert for Pakistan alongside Anna Netrebko, Erwin Schrott, Anna Prohaska and Piotr Bezcala that same summer. At the Mozarteum in Salzburg he sang the tenor part in Haydn’s Stabat Mater under the baton of Ivor Bolton. The same year Joel sang with soprano Barbara Frittoli in an Opera Gala Concert in Bergen, Norway.
He also took the tenor part in Haydn’s Creation at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. He gave his first recital in London with the Rosenblatt Recital Series in 2010. In a concert version of Lucia di Lammermoor with Edita Gruberova he sang Arturo at the Sächsische Semperoper in Dresden and also the role of Tybalt in a concert version of Romeo et Juliette at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The Evangelist in Herzogenberg’s Die Geburt Christi was yet another role he performed, at the Monastery of Wolhusen in Switzerland.
In 2012, he was invited to the Closing Gala of the Bad Kissingen Music Festival and had scintillating success at his Wigmore Hall recital debut in London accompanied by the pianist Ian Burnside.
Joel Prieto has collaborated with celebrity conductors such as Daniele Gatti, Roberto Abbado, Ivor Bolton, Adam Fischer, Fabio Luisi, Ottavio Dantone, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Daniele Callegari, Zubin Mehta, Bruno Campanella, Trevor Pinnock and stage directors like David McVicar, Robert Carsen, Claus Guth, Christof Loy, Francisco Negrin, Stephen Lawless, Daniel Satler, Emilio Sagi, Harry Kupfer and Hans Neuenfels.
In season 2012-2013 Joel Prieto had great success in his debut as Il Contino Belfiore in Hans Neuenfels new production of La finta Giardiniera at the Staatsoper Berlin where he has establish an important collaboration with the house. In 2013 Mr. Prieto had two other major debuts as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at the Houston Grand Opera and as Ernesto in Don Pascuale at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.
Season 2013-2014 started with his acclaimed debut as Nemorino in L’elisir D’amore at Opera de Puerto Rico. Then he was seen as Fenton in Christof Loy’s new production of Falstaff at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as well as prince Tamino in Die Zauberfloete at the Staatsoper Berlin together with soprano Anna Prohaska and Bass Rene Pape. In December 2013 he had great success in Vienna invited as the Tenor Soloist of the famous televised concert Christmas in Vienna, together with Luca Pisaroni, Ursula Langmayr, Angelika Kirchschlager, the Vienna Boys Choir and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Tenor Joel Prieto received the price “ Voices of the Year” as the best male singer in 2013, given by the Association of Lyric Singers of Spain.
This season he will debut as Narraboth in the opera Salome by Strauss led by Maestro Zubin Mehta and directed by Harry Kupfer at the Staatsoper Berlin. Other projects this season include the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Iopas in Les Troyens at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Mr. Prieto will join the Orfeon San Juan Bautista of Puerto Rico Choir in a concert for ProArte Musical. As well as his debut at the Glyndebourne Festival singing in a new production recorded for DVD as Il Contino Belfiore in La finta giardiniera by Mozart.
Next season Mr. Prieto will be singing in Chile, Toulouse, Berlin, Barcelona, Moscow and Santa Fe among others.
Tenor Joel Prieto was born in 1981 in Madrid. His mother is Puerto Rican and his father is Spanish. At the age of four he moved to Puerto Rico and at present he lives between Berlin and Paris.