Rubén Amoretti, the tenor who became bass due to a brain tumor

Ruben Amoretti he became fond of opera at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. He sang in a rock band, in his native Burgos; from there he went to boleros, tangos and tuna. Someone told him that he had a tenor voice, and his father, an amateur singer, paid him a ticket to Madrid to listen to an opera. The baptism could not be better: ‘The tales of Hoffmann’, with Alfredo Kraus as the protagonist. “I was amazed.” He was 23 years old and two after that experience he began to study singing. “I tried to do it in Madrid, but it was a bit of a chore and I was partying all day,” confesses the singer, “so I went to Switzerland. It suited me very well.

At that time, Rubén Amoretti was a lyrical-light tenor (the male voice practically finer and sharper), and he was beginning a promising career within that string. Alexander Pereira hired him at the Zurich Opera, and worked with the best singers and opera conductors. But … “I noticed that my joints and my head hurt a lot,” says Amoretti. Nicolai Gedda, with whom I used to study at that time, he told me that my voice was becoming encompassing … I reached without much effort to the upper treble D, but I began to have problems already in the second year of stay in Zurich and to lose high notes ».

And it is that, without knowing it, the singer suffered from acromegaly, a disease due to excessive secretion of growth hormone. “Three out of every one million people suffer from it. If you suffer from it since you are born, it is called gigantism, and if you develop it after the age of 18, which is when men stop producing growth hormones, it is called acromegaly ». The reason was that he had, Rubén Amoretti continues, “a tumor in the brain, in the pituitary. The consequence is that everything continues to grow, in different degrees according to each person; the jaw, the nose … In my case it occurred internally, and the vocal chords, which in the tenors are smaller and in the larger basses, they continued to grow. It was very gradual, but in the end I lost half a tone every week; it was also earning bass, but I didn’t know it. I was going crazy and had to quit.

It was a terrible time, recalls Amoretti, because of the emotional and economic situation that his retirement led to and his divorce and the death of his mother were combined. “I didn’t know what was going to become of me, I didn’t know what to do.” The singer remade himself and formed a tango group; «I started giving concerts and giving classes. My group went well and we took several trips. Precisely in one of them, in Venice, he sat at the piano in the hotel and began to make scales … «I realized that it reached down to the Do, a note that even many basses don’t have. I called my friend Roberto Alagna at six in the morning to tell him that he thought he was a baritone. We saw each other a few days later and he said no, it was low. ”

With his ‘new’ voice, he wanted to resume his career, but it was not easy. He couldn’t get the theaters to listen to him. Until an Argentine director hired him to sing the ‘Small Solemn Mass‘. A spectator of that concert, a doctor, approached him. He had seen him as a tenor and was surprised. “His case is physically impossible, he told me,” recalls Amoretti. He asked me if my joints and head hurt and he diagnosed me: I think you have a head tumor ».

The viewer was right. «I had a scan and the tumor appeared. They recommended that I undergo surgery because otherwise my heart would continue to grow and I would die soon. I did not want to operateAnd I was treated for two years until there was no other choice because it started to be dangerous. When he woke up after the operation, “the first thing I did was test my voice to see if I still had it.”

It took him a lot to get back on the circuit, but little by little he returned to the theaters. «The director of the Lausanne Opera gave me the first opportunity fourteen years ago, with the Monterone de ‘Rigoletto‘, not a very big role. I spent a year and a half singing ‘monterones’ but little by little I was climbing steps up to this moment ».

The adaptation was not easy. «One day I punched a piano because I did not get a ticket -he acknowledges-; acromegaly causes hormonal changes and I was very irritable. So I started beating him and ended up on the floor with the smashed piano … In front of my four-year-old son, whom I hadn’t seen. It is an episode that will appear in the movie that is scheduled to roll over his life. «A screenwriter in the United States, Gregory Jordan, I wanted to write a book about my case, and I told him everything … But everything. Then he told me that this was a movie, because it was a fall into hell and a story of overcoming. It seems that it will be shot in the spring of next year, and it will be a co-production between Spain and the United States.


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