Over his ten-year career, classically trained actor and singer Raguel Gabriel has become one of the notable vocal stars in Trinidad and Tobago Classical music, theatre and staged musicals. After more than a year of preparation, reset and reflection, he returns to the stage in his first fully Classical vocal recital entitled, ‘Schwanengesang’ (‘Shwa-neng-guh-zang’ in English, ‘The Swan Song’).
Accompanied by pianist and Westbeth NYC artist Dr. Jeffrey Middleton (The Juilliard School & Yale School of Music), the 50-minute, online stream will take place at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday 12thJune 2021, live from the prestigious Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Music Center in the center of the New York City’s performing arts district.
Gabriel is currently based in New York and had been working with Middleton as his vocal coach and creative collaborator before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States. This recital marks his return to performing and is the first of many artistic projects that will be executed under his company, RTG Productions.
Equally passionate about music and drama, Gabriel describes himself as a “singing actor”. Over the years, he has portrayed princes, romantic leads and anti-heroes, but for “Schwanengesang”, the role will demand a new level of emotional commitment and expression that he considers a milestone of his career on stage.
The collection of all fourteen short songs within the ‘Schwanengesang’ song cycle was brought to life by late Classical and early Romantic-era Austrian composer, Franz Schubert. It was written in 1828, and published in 1829, just a few months after the composer’s death – his final ‘swan song’ to the Classical music world.
“It is said that swans sing the most beautifully before they die,” explained Gabriel in a recent exclusive interview with Arts Marketing Agency, Black Collar Creative. “Schubert’s publisher named his last set of music after his most beautiful melodies, which were also Schubert’s last.”
While preparing for the recital, Gabriel found synchronicities between the dark, haunting melodies of Schubert’s work and his own personal longing, being so far from home with the looming possibility of never being able to return to Trinidad due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He described the musical journey as intense preparation for an intense role.
“The songs to me are about this young man he leaves home; leaves his love and begins to question his departure,” Gabriel revealed.
“Nature keeps pushing him forward; there are a lot of references to nature in these pieces. There is a lot of pressure on him, he questions whether to go back, but remembers his broken heart and decides, ‘that’s the reason that I left, I’m not going back’,” he explained.
With Schwanengesang, Gabriel promises to deliver an emotional, intimate performance under the spotlight.
“Coming on stage after two years was a gift to me as well. I need a stage,” confessed Gabriel. “I need to look out there and sing like there’s really an audience there in front of me.”
The recital is dedicated to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, and all are invited to tune in to the free stream on June 12th. Free, online tickets for the recital will be available from the ‘Events & Tickets’ section of kaufmanmusiccenter.org.
ABOUT RAGUEL GABRIEL
For lovers of concerts and stage theatre, Raguel Gabriel will be a familiar performer having received local critical acclaim for operatic, musical theatre and acting roles in productions such as ‘Les Miserables’, ‘The Magic Flute’, ‘Dido and Aeneas’, ‘The Impresario’ and ‘Tales of Hoffman’.
He studied Classical voice at The Key Academy of Music under June Nathaniel (Royal College of Music, London), joined and sang as a soloist with The Marionettes Chorale, joined the Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad’s Young Artist Collective and later on played lead roles with the Picoplat Music Development Foundation. In theatre, he studied at local drama school, Necessary Arts with acclaimed veteran actress, Penelope Spencer.
Beyond Trinidad and Tobago’s shores, Gabriel pursued performing seriously in New York where he graduated from the prestigious Three-Year Professional Conservatory at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting NYC in 2018. While there, he portrayed several diverse roles such as ‘Sorin’ in The Seagull by Anton Chekov, ‘Nino’ in Six Passionate Women by Mario Fratti, ‘Othello’, from William Shakespeare’s Othello and ‘Antonio’ in The Merchant of Venice, also by Shakespeare. He graduated from Stella in the spring of 2018.
After graduation, he worked under the direction of Broadway veteran Nathaniel Stampley (‘Mufasa’, The Lion King, on Broadway, Man of La Mancha and The Color Purple) and was hired to the Guest Relations team on Off Broadway’s critically acclaimed ‘Sleep No More’ at The Mckittrick Hotel. His performing credits continued to accumulate after a successful audition for Sacred Ground Productions (‘The Cafe Song’ from Les Misérables and Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’) where he was chosen to sing the romantic lead in playwright and producer Dr. Cynthia Stephens’s musical ‘The Princess and the Golden Yam’ at the popular Broadway venue, Green Room 42.
He was also cast in ‘Battle Cry’ with the Theatre East company. With this production, he travelled to all five boroughs of New York City and the experience landed him his first mention on Broadway.com. “I remember being called in to read for a new and upcoming Adam Sandler movie – that’s all I was told. I did not get the part, but it was such a joy to just be in the room, read and emote the part, seeing my resume in the pile of amazing actors,” Gabriel shared. “I believe the movie went on to be ‘Uncut Gems’.”