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The Mexican Voice

"Singing and melody and passion belong to the Mexican soul." - Joe McClain - Exploring the Mexican voice through an opera competition in San Miguel de Allende.


Mexico is well known for its vibrant mariachi and banda musical culture, and professionals often laud the Mexican voice as having a unique color that "combines both darkness and fire." 

However, those who dream of becoming professional singers in Mexico face enormous challenges, especially if they are attracted to opera. They may never get a chance at a fulfilling career due to a chronic lack of training opportunities and arts funding.

Two retired opera professionals, Joe McClain and John Bills, founded Opera de San Miguel with the aim of discovering and developing promising opera singers. The organization supports a privately funded national competition (Concurso San Miguel).

After a modest start in 2008, the Concurso has gained attention all over Mexico. One of its main attractions is that all finalists are offered an intense week of master classes with internationally renowned opera experts before the final event. Some of the students have gone on to achieve international recognition.

This video documents the 2012 competition.


Janet Jarman Videography, Photography, and Interviews / Filip Lein Editor / Natasha Rudnick Senior Producer, The Washington Post / Kati McKoy Production Assistant

With many thanks to: Joe McClain, John Bills, Shari Alexander, Zaira Ruiz and all of the contestants for the 2012 concurso.


Mexico goes to the opera, and likes what it hears The Washington Post

Ópera de San Miguel

Ópera de San Miguel 2014 Concurso


The Metropolitan Opera

Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes

High 50 - The five best opera websites

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