Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito graces Carmel.

Breathtaking Tenor: On classic pieces like “Ave Maria,” Pasquale Esposito’s voice soars to stirring heights, evoking Pavarotti.

In 1770, the Carmel Mission – or officially, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo – was named after Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, Italy. Several centuries later, the Mission has returned the favor and inspired an Italian.


As a young tourist, Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito was captivated by the landmark’s serene beauty. “I always fell in love with the peace surrounding this venue,” he says. “At 21 years old, I said, ‘One day my dream would be to sing in this church’ – I sang in the church just for fun, and the reverberations were absolutely perfect.”


That dream finds realization this Friday, April 29, with an “amplification-free” performance of famous classical Italian opera songs from the last century. Proceeds benefit the Carmel Mission and Notable Music Academy. 


Growing up in Naples, Esposito was exposed to the cultural significance of opera singers at a young age. 


“It was almost like God merged me with this life,” he says. “I did not have to choose.”


Today he shares that passion through a private music academy in San Jose, teaching learning disabled students the fundamentals of singing, musical theory and piano. 


“You can tell that he has a social-justice heart, that he cares about people and it comes through in his music,” says Nicki Pisculli, director of guest services for the Mission. 


You can also tell he has some talent – his voice is full-bodied, sensual and able to climb higher than the Italian Alps.


Friday night Esposito hopes to recreate the atmosphere of the Mission’s older eras. “I wanted [the performance] to be candlelit,” he says, “but that is too hazardous. We settled on electronic candles.” 


But that doesn’t mean his voice won’t set the crowd on fire. 


PASQUALE ESPOSITO performs 8:30pm Friday, April 29 (doors open at 7:45pm), at the Carmel Mission, 3080 Rio Road, Carmel. $25-$35. 408-528-6308 or www.pasqualeesposito.com.

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