Last evening my husband and I had the good fortune to attend the North American Debut of Icelandic tenor Gardar Thor Cortes at the Newport Music Festival Gala.
Cortes, a handsome 34 year old man, enchanted us with classical pieces, arias, popular tunes and Icelandic folk songs all in the magnificent setting of the Grand Hall at the Breakers. He was accompanied by pianists John Bayless and John Lenehan. Bayless received a standing ovation for his solo performance of “O Mio Babbino Caro” and “Nessun Dorma!”
Gardar Thor Cortes received voice training from his father’s school in Reykjavik. He went on to study in Vienna and Copenhagen. His big break came in 1999 when he won the role of Raoul in Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End.
His first album, entitled Cortes, became a #1 selling album in the UK and the fastest ever selling album in Iceland. He has been described as the “Heir to Pavarotti’s Crown” as well as “The James Bond of Opera”. One day he hopes to fulfill his ambition to sing Verdi’s Otello at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
Also attending the concert was Opera Society member Alfredo Varone who is a founding member of the Newport Music Festival.
Remember the name Gardar Thor Cortes – America will soon discover what Iceland and the UK already know – this talented young man.
Below is a YouTube video of Gardar singing “Nessun Dorma” – enjoy!