Carmenchú Domínguez didn’t want to wake up one day, look in the mirror and have to ask herself why she never pursued what she really loved: opera.
Those were the 25-year-old general physician’s first thoughts when she learned that the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music was holding auditions a number of years ago. She dropped everything to go for her dream.
“Your biggest regrets would be to not try and do what you want,” said Domínguez from her home in Chicago. “My most important policies in my life are to just do what I know I want to do. That’s what life is about. I don’t have many regrets in life, because I see everything as an opportunity to learn.”
Domínguez will make her American debut in the title role of Puccini’s one-act opera “Suor Angelica” during Opera Theatre of the Rockies’ Vocal Arts Festival. It will be paired with “Gianni Schicchi,” another Puccini one-act opera. Both will be performed Saturday and Sunday at Celeste Theatre in the Cornerstone Arts Center at Colorado College.
This is the Dominican Republic native’s second time portraying the role of the nun who has a child out of wedlock, after performing it in 2013 at the Teatro de la Opera of Puerto Rico.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to perform it. Some people used to say you have a Puccini voice, but I didn’t sing a lot of his arias. I was skeptical,” she said. “With this opera, I found myself. I found my voice. It made me open up and see myself as a real opera singer. I knew for sure this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
The Puccini performances are the culmination of the Vocal Arts Festival, an annual event that attracts college, post-college and young professional singers from around the world to participate in professional training sessions guided by a teaching staff of CC faculty, visiting mentors and local artists. The program was created more than two decades ago by CC and Martile Rowland, Opera Theatre of the Rockies’ founder and artistic director.
Domínguez, who will perform alongside festival participants, is settling into life as a full-time opera singer in the United States after performing with Opera de Puerto Rico, Opera al Fresco and Operetta Foundation. Her husband is also an opera singer with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
“It’s such a complex art form, especially Puccini music. It’s so raw. Your emotions are just there. You’re pouring your soul out. There’s nothing like the human voice. The human voice is so honest. It’s just very profound and personal.”