Alfonso Ortiz Tirado

(1893-1960)

Picture of Alfonso Ortiz Tirado
Mexican tenor. He was born in Álamos (Sonora) on the 29 of January of 1893. He was the son of Dr. Alfonsoo Ortiz Retes and Mrs. Luisa Tirado.

When he was still a child his father died and the family moved to Mexico City where, at only eight years old, he obtained his first success at a social party where he had been taken by his sisters Sarah and María Luisa, mezzosoprano and soprano respectiviely. The boy had to sing instead of the indisposed scheduled soprano and became the star of the night.

Alfonsoo Ortiz studied medicine and obtained his title of surgeon in 1919 and he worked as orthopedic surgeon while at the same time studied singing wiht José Pierson. Since 1920 he started singing in concerts and benefit performances. Also in 1920 he sang for the first time in radio, in a small radio station that belonged the the Cigarrette Company "El Buen Tono" later to become the powerful XEB broadcasting company.

It was also in 1920 that he decided to travel to U:S.A. to specialize himself in orthopedic surgery, firstly in Denver (Colorado) and later in New York, where he made a living by singing in night clubs and hotels, such as the Waldorf Astoria.

He made his operatic debut on the 11 of November of 1928 at the Teatro Esperanza Iris in Mexico City as Nemorino in "L'elisir d'amore" with Consuelo Escobar (Adina) and David Silva (Belcore). On December 14 and 21 he sang the role of Renato Des Grieux in Massenet's "Manon" with the distinguished soprano María Romero in the title role. It was a triumph for Ortiz Tirado and he had to sing the role again at the Teatro Esperanza Iris, on the 27 of January of 1929, this time with soprano Flora Islas Chacón as Manon.

On the 17 of January of 1929 he sang a new role at the Esperanza Iris theatre, Almaviva in "Il barbiere di Siviglia" with Consuelo Escobar. He was called to sing again this role on the 28 of April of 1929 with Isabel Soria as Rossina and this time at the Teatro Arbeu in Mexico City. Finally, on May 5th 1929 he repeated his Nemorino at the Esperanza Iris, with Consuelo Escobar as Adina.

He made some artistic tours in other Mexican cities before going abroad, in 1929, to sing in Havana and other Caribean cities. Back in Mexico he obtained a great success at the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara, singing on the 15 of December of 1929, in a concert of opera arias and Mexican music with the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra.

On the 18 of September of 1930 he inaugurated the new XEW "The Voice of Latin America" radio station in Mexico City with other famous Mexican singers like Juan Arvizu, Néstor Chayres and Agustín Lara. Ralph Peer who was the artistic director of RCA Víctor offered him a contract and he made his first 78 rpm record with the songs "Rosa" and "Lamento gitano". He obtained an important contract to sing at the NBC and remained for 18 months in U.S.A. singing in New York, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities. He also made a successful audition for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, but his love and dedication to his medical career prevented him from accepting the offered contract. All the money he earned singing was used to buy chirurgical material of his future clinic, the dream of his life.

Back in Mexico City he married Magdalena Avilés and they had three sons: Alfonsoo, María Luisa and Carlos.

In 1933 he made a second tour in Cuba, singing again at Havana and other cities. Then he sang in Costa Rica where he had the opportunity to sing at the beautiful Teatro Nacional de San José. He returned to Mexico and started a tour by the Mexican cities. At the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajar he sang three operatic concerts with the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra, in June 1933.

It was also in 1933 that he made his first film in Mexico: "Su última canción" (His last song) with actress María Luisa Zea who also made her debut in that film. In this film he sang music by Jules Massenet and María Grever. Later (I don't have the year) he made his second and last film, also with María Luisa Zea, "La última copa" (The last drink). On the 28 of December of 1933 he sang at the Teatro Degollado a new concert of Mexican music.

In 1934 he made his first long Latin American tour singing in Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina. Everywhere he was enthusiastically received but it was in Buenos Aires where he sang longer, not only in radio but also in recitals at the Teatro Odeón. He sang in other important Argentinian cities like the Teatro Opera, in Rosario, and the Rivera Indarte, in Córdoba. On August 24, 1934 he made his debut in Uruguay with a concert at the Teatro 18 de Julio, in Montevideo.

In April 1936 he sang four operatic concerts at the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara and made a new Latin American tour. Next year he was invited to sing again in Buenos Aires hwere he was joined by two other Mexican tenors: Tito Guízar and Juan Arvizu.

On the 23 of May of 1938 it was inaugurated in Mexico City a hospital for children, the most modern at the time, built with his earnings as a singer. It was called "Clínica Alfonsoo Ortiz Tirado". The tenor put a plate with the inscription: "My gratitude to Mexico. I built with my songs this temple for the mitigation of pain"-

In 1938 he was once again singing in Buenos Aires and on July 27th he arrived to Santiago (Chile) where he sang for the first time.

He made many tours in America and visited Cuba, Costa Rica, Panamá, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Perú, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. It is said that he also sang in Spain but I have been unable to fin support to this statement.

He received hommages, both as a doctor and as a singer. He received medals from Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and the American Union. In Argentina they made a monument.

On the 26 April of 1939 he sang for the first time at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City as part of a concert with several other important Mexican opera singers, like Fanny Anitúa and María Romero.

During the forties he continued his tours also recording tradfitional music of the countries he visited: Colombia, Perú, Argentina and Chile In 1954 he made a LP singing duets with his friend the Mexican tenor Juan Arvizu. In 1955 it was organized a moving hommage in his honour that took place at the Bellas Artes theatre in Mexico City.

Alfonsoo Ortiz Tirado was called "the lyric ambassador of song" and was one of the most beloved singers not only in Mexico but in all Latin American countries. Besides, he was one of the greatest orthopedic surgeons in Hispano America, being the personal doctor of the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

However, he lived in despair his last years because he was not able to sing. During seven years he suffered a serious heart illness, and died in Mexico City at 67 years old, on the 7th of September of 1960.

The Discography of Alfonsoo Ortiz Tirado

It would be very long and tedious to detail each one of the more than one hundred recordings made by our tenor.

His first records ("Manon" and "Gratia Plena") were for the "Brunswick" company in U.S.A., around 1928/1929 with piano by composer and baritone Mario Talavera. It included "Manon" and "Gratia plena". He recorded about twenty selections for "Brunswick", most of them folk Mexican tunes, included duets with his sister Sarah Ortiz Tirado and Mario Talavera. The orchestra was conducted by the noted Mexican composer Alfonsoo Esparza Oteo (the author of the beautiful song "Un viejo amor"). They also included a version of Mexico's National Anthem.

As I already said, his first international record for RCA was recorded in 1930 with orchestra conducted by Leroy Shield:


46922     Lamento gitano (María Grever)
          Rosa (Agustín Lara)
He made only two records with opera arias (Victor Black Label):


75272     L'elisir d'amore: Una furtiva lagrima
          Serenata (Franz Schubert)

75273     Manon: Il sogno
          Serenata Rimpianto (Toselli)
He was one of the few popular artists (the other one was José Mojica) who was offered the distinction to record some Victor selections for the prestigious Red Label, usually reserved for the great classical artists:

4153 Nunca te olvidaré (Agustín Lara)
     A una ola (María Grever)

4167 Abre tus ojos (Jorge del Moral)
     Déjame que te bese  (Jorge del Moral)

4168 Flor de Mayo  (Mario Talavera)
     Mañanita  (Jorge del Moral)
The following is a personal selection of what I think are his best songs:

30078  Por si no te vuelvo a ver (María Grever)
       Te quiero dijiste (María Grever)

30886  Cabellera blanca (Agustín Lara)
       Madre mía

30943  No niegues que me quisiste  (Jorge del Moral)
       Mañanita  (Gonzalo Curiel)

37641  Clavel del aire (Juan de Dios Filiberto)
       Las perlas de tu boca  (Eliseo Grenet)

37657  Calla, tristeza  (Gonzalo Curiel)
       Te quiero, morena  (Ernesto Lecuona)

37658  Granada (Agustín Lara)
       Toledo  (Agustín Lara)

75244  Oración caribe  (María Teresa Lara)
       Sevilla  (Agustín Lara)

75760  El caminante del Mayab  (Guty Cárdenas)
       Yucaltepén- canto maya  (Guty Cárdenas)
He also recorded for the Victor company with his sister Sarah Ortiz Tirado: "Suspiro andaluz" and "Mercedes". With the soprano Rosa Tentoni he recorded the beautiful song by Mario Talavera, "Por la señal". All these titles were made in 1933.

During the forties (1942/45) he made recordings in Buenos Aires for “Odeon” and “Columbia” labels, and in Mexico for “Peerless” label. At the end of his career he made LP’s for RCA Victor that included some duets with fellow tenors Pedro Vargas and Juan Arvizu.
Juan Dzazópulos E., February 2008

Alfonso Ortiz Tirado sings Manon: Il sogno
In RA Format

Alfonso Ortiz Tirado sings Oración caribe
In RA Format

Alfonso Ortiz Tirado sings Por la señal de la santa cruz , with Rosa Tentoni
In RA Format

Alfonso Ortiz Tirado sings Cabellera blanca
In RA Format

Alfonso Ortiz Tirado sings Caminante del Mayab
In RA Format

Alfonso Ortiz Tirado sings Clavel del aire
In RA Format
I wish to thank Juan Dzazópulos for the recordings and biographical information.

Back to Index