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Mexican tenor Javier Camarena marks 10-year career on high note after rare encore at Met

FILE - In this April 25, 2014 file photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera, Javier Camarena performs as Don Ramiro during a performance of “La Cenerentola“ at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. After giving a rare encore at New York’s Metropolitan Opera earlier this year, Camarena is marking the 10th anniversary of his international career this week by giving his first professional performance in the city of his birth. The benefit concert for cancer patients will be held Friday, July 4 in Camarena’s native Xalapa, capital of the Gulf state of Veracruz. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Marty Sohl, File)

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FILE - In this April 25, 2014 file photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera, Javier Camarena performs as Don Ramiro during a performance of “La Cenerentola“ at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. After giving a rare encore at New York’s Metropolitan Opera earlier this year, Camarena is marking the 10th anniversary of his international career this week by giving his first professional performance in the city of his birth. The benefit concert for cancer patients will be held Friday, July 4 in Camarena’s native Xalapa, capital of the Gulf state of Veracruz. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Opera, Marty Sohl, File)

MEXICO CITY - Mexican tenor Javier Camarena is making a quick trip home after hitting some high notes on the road.

On the heels of his rare encore at New York's Metropolitan Opera in late April, Camarena is marking the 10th anniversary of his international career this week by giving his first professional performance in his hometown.

Accompanied by the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra and the Veracruzan University Chorus, he will perform a collection of the most important operas of his career by Mozart, Donizetti and Rossini in a benefit concert for cancer patients Friday in Camarena's native Xalapa, capital of the Gulf state of Veracruz.

"It's a way of returning to give thanks to my teacher Cecilia Perfecto, because she was the one with the vision to see me in the future as a singer," the 38-year-old said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Austria, where he was performing. "There are many things that make this concert very meaningful."

Growing up in Veracruz state, Camarena says he was "the only crazy one" in his family to try to make a career in the arts. His father was a nuclear power plant technician; his mother is a chef. One brother studied computer science, the other specialized in biochemical engineering.

However, the Camarena home was always filled with music, including the tunes of the late legendary Mexican singer-actor Pedro Infante, who performed in the 1940s and 1950s, and popular tropical groups.

Camarena started his professional music studies at the Veracruzan University in Xalapa at 19, opting for voice because it was the easiest way into the school. He wanted to study guitar or piano and thought he could later change to a musical instrument.

Instead, he fell in love with singing.

Camarena finished his studies at the music school at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico, and later travelled to Switzerland, where his mentor is well-known Mexican tenor Francisco Araiza, who encouraged him to compete internationally.

Camarena performed his rare encore at the Met while filling in for the ailing Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez as Don Ramiro during a performance of Rossini's "La Cenerentola (Cinderella)." The audience gave him a prolonged ovation for his aria in the second act, "Si, ritrovarla io giuro (Yes, I swear I'll find her)."

The tenor and Fabio Luisi, the Met's principal conductor, repeated the aria, which includes several high Cs and an interpolated high D.

The Met says Camarena is only the third singer in 70 years to perform an aria encore. The others: Florez and the late Luciano Pavarotti.

"Knowing that my name is now written in the history of world opera brings me much satisfaction," Camarena said.

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