Tenor David Portillo is awarded the 2024 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. The Sphinx Medal of Excellence is the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, recognizing extraordinary classical Black and Latinx musicians. Along with a $50,000 career grant, Sphinx annually awards the Medals of Excellence to three artists who, early in their career, demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and an ongoing commitment to leadership and their communities. Portillo, along with Kalena Bovell and Sterling Elliott, will be celebrated by the foundation on March 27, 2024.
Portillo has performed leading roles on opera stages around the world including Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Deutsche Opera Berlin, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, the Glyndebourne Festival, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Australia at the Sidney Opera House, and the Wiener Staatsoper. The Metropolitan Opera has seen Mr. Portillo in major tenor roles in The Magic Flute, The Merry Widow, The Barber of Seville, and Dialogues of the Carmelites among others. He has premiered roles in new operas including Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves, Thomas Ades’ The Exterminating Angel, and he just recently created Jonathan Harker in John Corigliano’s Lord of Cries at the Santa Fe Opera.
In concert, Mr. Portillo has sung with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, the New York Choral Society at Carnegie Hall, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchester at the Salzburger Festspiele, and the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal conducted by Yannick Nézet–Séguin.
He has also collaborated with Netherlands Radio Orchestra, Washington Concert Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In recital, David has collaborated for several recitals highlighting songs in Spanish and songs about identity.
Founded in 1997, The Sphinx Organization is a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Based in Detroit, Michigan, Sphinx is focused on increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music and recognizing excellence. Sphinx programs serve beginner students to seasoned classical music professionals, as well as cultural entrepreneurs and administrators.
Photo: Simon Pauly