Featured artist: Rayén Quitral, Mapuche soprano
This artist, whose centennial was commemorated in 2016, has a legacy that still seems undefined in the history of Chilean lyrical singing.
María Georgina Kitral Espinoza, better known as Rayén Quitral, was born on November 7, 1916. She came from Temuco, though some say she spent her childhood in Iloca.
In the early 1930s, she was sponsored by theater impresario Ignacio Benítez Gallardo, who took her to receive instruction with singing teacher Emma Washter Ortíz de Tomassen.
Rayén’s dedication to her craft was constant, which caused her to be admitted to the National Music Conservatory in 1935. Later on, she performed in several venues in Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, and Canada.
In 1938, she participated in the inauguration of the National Stadium of Chile, where she sang without a microphone. Then, after a show in Lima, she performed Mozart’s The Magic Flute in the Colón Theater of Buenos Aires, which was a momentous triumph.
She later traveled to the United States, where she settled for some time, living in Claudio Arrau’s New York home to study under him. There, she attended an audition but her nerves betrayed her, which caused her to be poorly evaluated. Her teacher, outraged, broke all ties with her because he considered her to be undisciplined.
In 1950, she began a European tour; in 1951, she made her debut in London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Also, in September 3, 1951, she gave a concert at the Municipal Theater of Santiago de Chile, where the specialized press bizarrely leveled criticism at her “vulgarism” and “display of sonority”.
In 1954, she received the Caupolicán prize, an accolade granted annually to Chile’s best lyrical singer by the Association of Film, Theater, and Radio Writers.
Rayén Quitral ended her singing career in 1967 and spent the next decade directing choirs and teaching singing in schools.
She now lies at rest in the General Cemetery of Santiago de Chile.