1. Faculty

César Ulloa

Chair, Voice; Frederica von Stade Distinguished Chair in Voice

"The Opera world is small, and the number of singers who actually make it in the business probably numbers less than a few thousand, yet a significant number of that small number of singers can say that it was César Ulloa that gave them the skills a singer needs to have a career. That makes him an invaluable and important part of the opera world. This comes from the singers themselves, once their careers are established and they have had a chance to reflect on who made the difference for them." —Dolora Zajick

COURSES TAUGHT

  • Private Lessons

Education

  • BM, University of Tampa

ENSEMBLES

  • Metropolitan Opera
  • New York City Opera
  • Cleveland Orchestra

AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS

  • Sarlo Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 2014
  • First Prize, American Opera Auditions
  • Winner, William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation Award

What is your hometown?

Garland, TX

What is your favorite recording?

Puccini: Turandot — Nilsson, Corelli, Scotto, Giaiotti, Orchestra and Chorus of the Rome Opera

What are you passionate about outside of music?

When I am not teaching at SFCM or the San Francisco Opera, I spend a lot of my time gardening, cooking, spending time with my dogs, and traveling to hear my students perform around the world.

Who were your major teachers?

Thomas Hayward, Franco Corelli, and Boris Goldovsky.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“Keep it real — let the music inspire you!”

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“How much do I have to sacrifice to be successful as an opera singer?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

It was when I was chosen by Marilyn Horne, Franco Corelli, and Jerome Hines to receive a two-year stipend and free tuition to participate in an intensive opera program they were running. This program included voice lessons several times a week and coaching, as well as performing opportunities. This meant I did not have to work in an office for those two years to pay living expenses in New York City, and instead spend every day concentrating on perfecting my technique and stagecraft.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I would be working in the medical field.

What is your daily practice routine?

I warm up my voice every day before I start teaching in the morning.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Mozart, Brahms, and Puccini.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Salzburg, Austria, 1756–1791.

What are your most important collaborations?

1. In my four years as principal vocal instructor for the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program in Los Angeles, I had the honor and the pleasure of collaborating with Plácido Domingo in several productions performed with the singers from the young artist program.

2. I spent nearly two months in Monaco, France performing with the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti. Menotti himself directed the opera and we spent many hours collaborating and speaking about the opera and what it felt to be an immigrant, having to leave your own country and go to a foreign land—something I went through myself as a young child.

3. Studying with Franco Corelli for three years was a very important collaboration in my life and in my career later on, as well as in my role as a voice teacher.