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Remembering Rafael Rojas: 1963-2022

It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas, a hugely distinguished artist and key member of the Opera North family.

Rafael enjoyed a truly international career taking on many of the great tenor roles in the repertoire, a large number of which he performed with Opera North, quickly becoming a favourite of both the company and its audiences.

Giselle Allen as Tosca and Rafael Rojas as Cavaradossi in Edward Dick's production of Tosca © Richard H Smith

Rafael made his debut with Opera North in 2002 as Cavaradossi in Christopher Alden’s production of Tosca, a role he sang three times with the company including, most recently, in Edward Dick’s 2018 production.

Since then, he has brought a wealth of characters to life on stage including Il Duca (Rigoletto), Dick Johnson (La Fanciulla del West), Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), Ruggero (La Rondine), Calaf (Turandot), Radamès (Aida), and Andrea Chénier in the opera of the same name, a role he was due to return to in 2024. He also enchanted the crowds in Millennium Square in the heart of Leeds in 2018 when he performed as part of A Classic Summer’s Evening with the Orchestra of Opera North.

Rafael Rojas as Calaf in Opera North's 2017 production of Turandot © Tristram Kenton

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, said:

“This catalogue of roles alone is an enduring and endearing tribute to an artist who took Opera North to his heart. We all have so many fond memories of him as a person and an inspiring artist. Rafael’s demeanour was always positive and even in challenging times he believed in the art of the possible, and his ringing tenor voice, courage and charm will be so fondly remembered.

“Opera North and the operatic world mourn the passing of a gallant and transcendent artist and we can count ourselves privileged to have known and worked with our dear Rafael.”

The performance of Rigoletto on Saturday 22 January, opening the new season at Opera North, will be dedicated in memory of Rafael.

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