Three voice lessons. That is all Galeano Salas had under his belt when he auditioned for, and earned a place in, the vocal performance program at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. Today the Houstonian, who originally wanted to be a pop singer, is a rising star on the international opera circuit. Salas recently sang his way to the top at a prestigious opera competition in Budapest, Hungary.
Winning the Grand Prix at the third annual International Éva Marton Singing Competition – named after one of the most famous sopranos in the world – is the latest accolade for the Mexican-American tenor. Salas was honored that Éva Marton noticed his fire and drive from the very first round, when he sang Liszt’s “Sonetto 104 del Petrarca.”
”It was an indescribable emotional experience,” Marton stated on the competition’s website. “I had never heard this song interpreted like this, especially not by a foreign artist. After this, we naturally paid special attention to his other performances.”
Salas credits his success to the UH instructors he now considers family.
“My years there were so important for me. I got into UH with no music experience, so I absorbed everything like a sponge,” explained Salas, who graduated in 2011 with degrees in both music education and vocal performance.
He was also a member of the Moores School Concert Chorale. The Chorale, led by Betsy Cook Weber, was the Grand Prix Winner at the Béla Bartók International Choir Competition in Hungary this past summer.
“People adore Galeano because he is so open and natural, and he portrays that in his singing,” said Héctor Vásquez, Salas’s voice teacher at UH. “Besides his talent and technical ability, which he has worked so hard to refine, it’s his basic human nature that attracts the listener. He communicates with people through his music. It’s one of those intangibles that is hard to teach. “
Salas went on to earn a master’s degree in opera performance from Yale University and completed an artist diploma at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. He is currently an ensemble member of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Germany.
“The education I received at Moores School of Music gave me a foundation for success,” Salas added. “Having an inner circle of instructors who always have my best interest at heart has been invaluable for my career.”
In addition to the Grand Prix at the Éva Marton singing competition, Salas received the Audience prize, along with invitations from the Bartók Plus Opera Festival, the Filharmonia Hungary, the Hungarian State Opera, the Miskolc National Theatre and the Óbuda Danubia Orchestra.