He’s got a Grammy Award, he’s sung starring roles at major opera companies worldwide, and he's a featured voice in Disney’s Coco—and that’s not even the half of it.
Joshua Guerrero, one of the opera world’s fast-rising tenors, has already had quite the career. Better yet, he’s just getting started. Read on to learn more about Joshua, how he got into opera, and how he feels about being one of the first to receive the Eva and Marc Stern Award.
With a talent like Joshua’s, you’d think he would have been refining it his entire life. But surprisingly enough, he didn’t even get into music and performance (let alone opera) until his twenties.
“I got into opera later in my life. I didn't grow up in choirs or anything like that,” Joshua said with a laugh.
“I stumbled into music while I was at seminary school. I began to really explore music vocally in my third year. I was in the music building because I had to research some sacred arias. I remember walking down the hall and listening to this magical aria. I was so moved by it, I kind of just went out on a limb and asked the choir director to audition me.”
Thanks to that one choir director, Joshua began his foray into the world of opera. He started learning about the genre and training his voice like never before. But once he knew a life working in the clergy wasn’t for him, he left seminary school and moved back to his hometown of Las Vegas where he kept his voice warm in an... unusual (yet utterly charming) way.
“I moved back to Las Vegas and needed a job. I was told that they were hiring singing gondoliers at the Venetian Resort and Casino. So I auditioned for it and got the job, and I did that for a couple of years.”
After some time on the Vegas strip, he made his way to Los Angeles to pursue his operatic dreams.
“I would get gigs on weekends, you know, weddings, funerals, special events, things like that. Then my former voice teacher told me about an opera competition in Palm Springs. So I entered and ended up being one of the finalists, but I didn't place. The lady who was accompanying for the competition was on staff at UCLA. She pulled me to the side and said, ‘Hey, I think you got a little talent.’ And she urged me to attend UCLA to study opera.”
At 27, Joshua wasn’t sure going back to school was for him. But after six months of persuasion, he decided to take the plunge and attended UCLA.
"I was auditing courses and working with different teachers. One of them had a connection to LA Opera and told me I should audition for the Young Artist Program.”
He officially joined the LAO family in 2012 after a stupendously successful audition. Joshua spent three years training with the company. During that time, he made his main stage debut as Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor in 2014. The next year, he took on the leading role of Greenhorn (aka Ishmael) in Moby-Dick and gave a stellar performance as Count Almaviva in The Ghosts of Versailles. Audiences didn’t have to wait too long for his return either. He came back as Macduff in Macbeth in 2016.
But even though opera has taken Joshua around the world, Los Angeles is still one of his favorite places to perform.
“LA is such a special place to me. I love the community here. I love that the coaches actually took an interest in what I had to offer, even when I was as green as they come. They were very faithful. I've never had an organization believe in me like the way LA Opera has, and I'll always be grateful for that.”
Seeing firsthand how Joshua's career launched so spectacularly in Los Angeles, it made perfect sense that he was chosen as one of the inaugural artists recognized with the Eva and Marc Stern Artist Award.
“I'm just humbled by the fact that I'm one of the first recipients for this. Marc is so passionate about his legacy and what he leaves here and the fact that he has his hand in [different arts organizations] from the Broad to LA Opera. The generosity of people like him is what makes dreams for people like me come true. I'm just so humbled by their graciousness and their constant involvement with the arts in Los Angeles.”