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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: Sopranista by Samuel Mariño

Cover of Sopranista by Samuel Marino
Cover of Sopranista by Samuel Marino

Venezuelan singer Samuel Mariño has been blessed with a rare gift: he is a true male soprano. His voice didn't fully change during puberty, and when Mariño sought medical help to make his voice lower, one doctor suggested that perhaps Mariño should instead accept it and become a singer. It was the best advice Mariño could have gotten. He embraced his natural voice, studying first at the National Conservatory in Caracas and then at the Paris Conservatory. Along the way, he fell in love with the repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries: Mozart, Gluck, Vivaldi, Boulogne, and others.

Mariño’s CD Sopranista, released in late 2022, captures him at the top of his game, singing arias often reserved for sopranos from operas by Mozart, Gluck, Cimarosa, and Boulogne. His voice is crystalline, and his technique is agile as he runs through each piece effortlessly with beauty and passion. And he’s got a good band, too: Andrea Marcon, himself a specialist of the 17th and 18th century, leads La Cetra Baroque Orchestra of Basel.

As he was on his way to make his American debut, Mariño stopped by our studios and chatted with Mona Seghatoleslami. Effervescent and upbeat, he spoke of his love for the music he sings and of his hope that his music can unify us.

The journey for Mariño has not been easy. He was mercilessly bullied in school because of his voice and because he was openly gay. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, he said, “Whether someone feels like a man, a woman, non-binary, I want people to make music. When I wear a dress and make-up on stage, I do it because I love fashion and it’s a statement…I get messages from transgender people who say thank you so much for being on stage like this. This encourages me to continue to make this art that I love so much.” As we celebrate Pride Month, let’s also celebrate this extraordinary artist and his unique and lovely talent.

A Strong Memorial baby and Greece Arcadia grad, Julia Figueras was the Music Director and mid-day host for WXXI Classical until June 30, 2023 when she retired after more than 26 years of service. She also hosted the award-winning monthly interview/performance show, Backstage Pass.