Carlos García León
Carlos García León was born in Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico and had a passion for music early on. Through their experience over the years in various music organizations, they developed a passion for addressing cultural equity, decolonization, and social justice in the arts. “I have a personal mission to fight for diversity, inclusion, and cultural equity. It is what drives me in my work and my learning process on how to continue this mission.”
Carlos identifies as a queer, non-binary, Latine, Mexican-Statesian who is currently the Individual Giving Manager for Cincinnati Opera. In this position, they are in charge of stewardship, cultivation, and engagement of donors and serving as the liaison to the Cincinnati Opera’s Guild. They were a part of the Artist Relief Fund, set to compensate contracted artists and artisans from the financial burden incurred by COVID cancellations by raising over $500,000 and starting the Virtual Opera Chats program designed to engage patrons with diverse artists and stories. Carlos is also a spoken word artist, having their written work published in local and national zines, and performing in local open mics. Carlos will be coaching WordPlay Cincy teen poets for the spring 2021 Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam as well as future spoken word workshops.
Though new to the opera world and joining Cincinnati Opera a couple of months before COVID hit, Carlos has been taking in opera through digital streaming of performances. “Out of the ones I have gotten to see, my top favorite has been Opera Philadelphia's We Shall Not Be Moved. Getting to see an opera that touched on an important local story with a powerful message, genre-crossing music that was tremendously beautiful, and the way Opera Philadelphia handled the whole digital festival really made me fall in love with that production.” During the pandemic, he’s been learning about artists and checking out the work of companies nationwide, especially those who are providing musical experiences in non-traditional ways and working on diversity and social justice in their communities. “In a short list, I've been obsessed with Jamie Barton, Ailyn Pérez, Frederick Ballantine, John Holiday, Isabel Leonard, Karen Slack, Morris Robinson, Javier Camarena, just to name a few. As for companies, besides my own, I've been looking at the fantastic work Seattle Opera is doing, as well as San Diego Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and The American Opera Project.”
In the fall of 2020, Carlos submitted a proposal to OPERA America for a Latinx panel discussion for Latinx Heritage Month. This led to OPERA America’s panel discussion, “Bringing Latinx Voices to the Opera Stage” that brought together a panel of artists and professionals from across the Latinx diaspora and among different positions within the opera field to talk about representation, storytelling, music, and culture. “It was such a joy to have this idea become a reality with an organization that has a platform to reach a broad audience and to scratch the surface on these conversations.” As Carlos looks towards the future, he is inspired by learning more about BIPOC artists and administrators in opera who have paved the way for others while working towards future with collaborations that might inspire others like them, queer and Latine, to be a part of the opera field.