Cesar Ulloa

"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


  • Applied Lessons
  • Vocal Performance Lab


  • BM, University of Tampa


  • Metropolitan Opera
  • New York City Opera
  • Cleveland Orchestra


  • 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, Texas.

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.


With an opera and concert career that spanned over fifteen years with more than 50 roles in his repertoire, César Ulloa is an internationally recognized teacher, devoting his time to developing young voices. For years, he has held the position of Master Teacher at the San Francisco Opera Center’s Merola and Adler programs, and in 2014 he received the Sarlo Family Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching from SFCM.

Ulloa has been on the voice faculty at the University of Montreal, Palm Beach Atlantic University, the New World School of the Arts, and has been a Master Teacher at several prominent young artist programs, including LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein, L'Atelier Lyrique de L'Opéra de Montréal, Palm Beach Opera, Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Dramatic Voices, New Zealand Opera School, IVAI (China, Italy, Canada, Israel), and most recently at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, as well as a principal voice instructor and consultant for SIVAM, Mexico’s most prominent young artist program.

His students perform regularly at top international opera houses and concert halls around the world, have been accepted virtually into every major young artist program in the US and Europe, and have won first prize in numerous competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Operalia, the Montserrat Caballé International Competition, the Loren L. Zachary Society’s Vocal Competition, the George London Foundation Awards Competition, the José Iturbi International Music Competition, the Richard Tucker Foundation Awards, and have been finalists in Cardiff Singer of the World.

Ulloa’s singing career took him to some of the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls including New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Carnegie Hall, L’Opera de Monte-Carlo, Israel Philharmonic, Washington National Opera, among numerous others.” A native of Cuba, he earned his music degree from the University of Tampa and pursued professional students at Southern Methodist University. His own teachers include world-renowned tenors Thomas Hayward and Franco Corelli.