Díaz, Rafaelo (1883–1943)

By: Jeremy Roberts

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: July 20, 2020


 

Rafaelo Díaz, operatic tenor, was born in San Antonio on May 16, 1883. He was the son of Rafaelo and Rosa (Umscheid) Díaz. He was baptized Francisco Rafael Díaz but as an adult changed his name to Rafaelo Díaz. He received his early schooling at the German-English School in San Antonio and the West Texas Military Academy. He showed musical talent at an early age and began his career as a pianist under the guidance of one of San Antonio's pioneer music teachers, Miss Amalia Hander. After his promising voice was discovered while he was studying at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin, Díaz went to Italy to study under famous Italian maestro Vincenzo Sabatini. He returned to America and made his debut in the Boston Opera Company's production of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello. In 1917 he joined the Metropolitan Opera Company and performed leading tenor roles in Jules Massenet's Thaïs and Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov's Le Coq d'Or.

His stage presence and magnetic personality, along with his fine lyric tenor voice, kept him with the Metropolitan until 1936. He then toured the country with the Scotti Opera Company, making several stops in San Antonio along the way. In his spare time he made records for a leading phonograph company. He also conducted a series of concerts at the Waldorf-Astoria. Critics praised Díaz for his smooth performance, the depth and richness of his voice, the clarity of his enunciation, and the beauty of his phrasing. He sang in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German, and was known as the "Lone Star Tenor of the Lone Star State." He never married. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in New York City on December 12, 1943.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Categories:

  • Music
  • Genres (Classical)
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jeremy Roberts, “Díaz, Rafaelo,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 09, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/diaz-rafaelo.

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September 1, 1995
July 20, 2020

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