2018 First Place Winner
Carla Vargas
Lyra New York Online Mozart Competition
Opera Division

Soprano Carla Vargas Fuster is a young lyric soprano from Puerto Rico known for the rich dark timbre of her voice. After her appearance in the children’s choir of Opera of PuertoRico’s 2001 production of Tosca, she knew she was meant to be an opera singer.

After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico in 2013, she began to study at theConservatory of Music of Puerto Rico’s undergraduate program with mezzosoprano Ilca López.

Her most recent performances include her debut as Pamina in the Conservatory of MusicOpera Workshop’s production of Die Zauberflöte and as Rosalinde in Northwestern’s VocalCarrier Seminar production of Die Fledermaus in 2017.

In 2016 she participated in Puerto Rico District’s Metropolitan National Council Auditions where she won the Daisy Ruiz de Marrero Encouragement Award. This past summer 2018 she was a part of the Institute of Vocal Arts in Montréal, Canada. Vargas Fuster is currently a first year master’s student at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music where she is astudent of Karen Brunssen. Next February she will make her debut in Northwestern University Opera Theatre production of The Rake’s Progress as Anne Trulove.


From Carla Vargas:

"My relationship to music started when I was very young. Both of my parents are very musical, and they always played music in my house. I also loved playing dress up and singing and dancing in family reunions or whenever I got the chance.


"My mom is a Maria Callas and Plácido Domingo fan, so their voices stuck in my head ever since I was a little girl. When I turned 7, my mother brought me to the Conservatory of Music because she wanted me to start taking music lessons formally. It was then that I began my training as a musician. Back then, I took violin, music theory, solfege, orchestra lessons and I was part of the children’s choir. Although my primary instrument was the violin, I fell in love with singing because it felt natural to me and I enjoyed myself while doing it. I always loved seeing a smile we brought to the faces of the people that heard us. However, it was during a production of Tosca of Opera de Puerto Rico, starring Puerto Rican singers Rosa María Baker, César Hernández and Justino Díaz that changed my life. I was part of the children’s choir as an altar boy. I was completely shook when I heard the chorus of voices singing the “Te Deum” for the first time. It was a truly powerful experience and I knew I wanted to be a part of something that magical when I grew up.


"At 16, I began taking vocal technique lessons at the Conservatory with my first voice teacher, Diana Alvarado. She formally introduced me to opera and to classical singing and I cannot be grateful enough for her guidance and the knowledge she shared with me. I continued my studies throughout my college years, while I was at the University of Puerto Rico, and when I graduated in 2013, I began my bachelor’s at the Conservatory under professor Ilca López. I learned tremendously from dedicating myself to singing exclusively and I had my first performances as a solo artist while at school.


"I view singing not only as a performative art form but as an opportunity to become a story teller while being onstage. I also consider it an art of listening and an opportunity for collaboration with other artists. In that sense, I admire the artistry of artists like Maria Callas, Mirella Freni, Leontyne Price and Luciano Pavarotti. "