Young opera singer from Honduras triumphs around the world

Before I go on stage, I feel my nerves running up and down my body. I can feel my arms and legs trembling and the sweat running down my forehead. But when I set foot on stage, everything flows naturally.

  • 1 year ago
  • December 23, 2022
5 min read
Dennis Orellana has participated in several opera works in Europe Dennis Orellana has participated in several opera works in Europe | Photo Courtesy of Dennis Orellana
Dennis Orellana
Interview Subject
Dennis Orellana Manzanares is a young Honduran who grew up in San Pedro Sila. He quickly gained acclaim for his skills as an opera singer and has taken on advanced opportunities to perform throughout the world. He is currently in his fourth year at the Escuela Superior de Canto in Madrid, Spain. He studied his third year at the Hochschule der Künste in Stuttgart, Germany, through the Erasmus program.
Dennis has participated in several opera performances in Europe. The Parnassus Shop artistic agency manages his career as a professional singer.
Background Information
The countertenor is the higher tone tenor voice. In particular, it boasts an artificial resonance, with wider and higher notes. The countertenor is sung primarily in head voice with an unaerated falsetto, using the vibration of a part of the vocal folds based on the resonance of the head and not through the chest voice or falsetto. Very few countertenors can reach the soprano repertoire.

SALZBURG, Austria — I was a 12-year-old boy browsing the internet when I stumbled upon a piece of symphonic metal. It amazed me. A strong passion for music awoke within me and I decided to join the Youth Symphonic Band in San Pedro Sula.

I never imagined I could be part of an opera, let alone play the role of countertenor in a composition by Mozart right in my hometown of Salzburg. Yet, here I am, a member “La Finta Giardiniera.”

Before I go on stage, I feel my nerves running up and down my body. I feel my arms and legs trembling and the sweat running down my forehead, but when I set foot on stage, everything flows naturally. Being in front of the public with an orchestra allows me to feel comfortable.

Young singer wins all-expense paid trip to audition for conservatories

As a beginner-level opera singer, I always try to stay 100 percent focused on a fixed point and control my posture to master the technical demands. I hear my voice connecting with the orchestra, enjoying the sound environment without any electronic interference. That is the magic of classical music. It is an art form.

When I look back at how far I have come and where I am now, I think about how things lined up for me. I believe when you are destined for something in life, nothing can stop it.

Dennis with an orchestra team | Photo Courtesy of Dennis Orellana

I started studying music at the age of 15, playing the trombone. One day at school, I sang in my countertenor voice in one of the classrooms. I did not know my vocal range at that time. I began experimenting as a game. A teacher came up to me, surprised to realize that singing voice belonged to me. He said I had a “privileged tone of voice” and offered to help me perfect my technique.

From then, I worked on my voice. Every time I performed; people enjoyed my talent. On one occasion, I received an invitation to participate in an event organized by the Spanish embassy in Honduras. At the end of the show, they said they had something for me. They gave me a return ticket with all expenses paid to audition at music conservatories in a European country!

I could not believe the gift they gave me. I had an opportunity to change my life. In 2018, I traveled and auditioned at two conservatories. Both admitted me, but I chose the Escuela Superior de Canto de Madrid.

Moving forward after my stint with Got Talent España

In 2020, while studying in Madrid, the producer of Got Talent España invited me to participate in the contest. I walked on stage and sang for the judges and audience. I received the gold pass which advanced me to the semifinals. As the contest progressed, I questioned whether I wanted to continue, but never got to make that decision. I came down with symptoms of COVID-19 and had to end my participation. It served as an incredible opportunity, even though it ended early.

In 2021, an artistic agency which manages the careers of several opera singers expressed interest in me. They offered several opportunities to evaluate me, eventually asking me to work with them exclusively. Gradually, I have participated in more and more shows. In fact, I served as a soloist in Germany with a well-established orchestra – an unforgettable and encouraging experience.

dennis orellana countertenor from honduras
Dennis at an opera performance | Photo Courtesy of Dennis Orellana

I feel like I am on the right track today. Even though not all the roles have been leading, each one pushes my career forward. I feel grateful to everyone who believed in me since my time in Honduras, including my friends and family who felt moved when they heard me sing Ave Maria. Remembering their support makes my heart feel full.

Although at times I miss my life before being an artist, I fix my eyes on what I want to achieve in the future. The projects I can carry out in as a representative of Honduran youth motivate me to continue forward.

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