Ray Lawrence Arbizu

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Ray Lawrence Arbizu was born to Ray Cahill Arbizu and Margarita Trujillo in August of 1929. Arbizu attended Pheonix Union High School, where, from an early age he exhibited an excellent voice and gift for music. He graduated from high school in 1947. Arbizu later met and married Annie Marion, the couple had eight children. Arbizu passed away in May of 2003 in Mesa, Arizona.


Arbizu was a powerful singer and studied vocal performance at Arizona State University graduating with a Bachelors in Music. Upon graduation, he enlisted with the United States Military as an Army Artillery man. He served in the military beginning in July of 1952 until his honorable discharge in April of 1954. Just prior to his enlistment, Arbizu joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Upon military discharge, Arbizu returned to school at ASU where he completed his Masters of Music in 1955. Arbizu continued to study and perform. He studied at the University of Southern California from 1958-1959 and was then awarded a Fulbright Grant, which allowed him to pursue studies in Austria and sing with the Josef Haydn Orchestra as well as with Erena Chillingarian and James Gibbons in 1961.


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Arbizu had an incredible career as an operatic tenor. Beginning in 1962, Arbizu starred as lead tenor in the Bonn Opera Company in Germany until 1965. His debut performance was as Othello during the Beethoven Festival in September. He went on to sing 65 performances with the company, as well as multiple performances with other groups. Arbizu played the leading roles in operas including Rigoletto, La Traviata and Carmen. In 1965 he transferred companies and sang with the Essen Opera company as their lead tenor until 1967, when he and his family relocated back to the United States. Arbizu continued his career with the American National Opera Company of New York City until 1968. While with the American National Opera, Aribzu performed as the lead in many major operas in major cities across the country, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, St. Louis and New Orleans.

In 1974, Arbizu's name was listed in the Who's Who International Music Directory of Cambridge England, and in 1976, he was listed in the Who's Who in the West and in the regional section of Who's Who in America. Arbizu is also listed as a Notable American of 1976-77.

In 1968 Arbizu began his career in academia. He began teaching at his alma mater, ASU, where he taught until 1970. Arbizu then transferred to the School of Music at Brigham Young University. Arbizu continued at BYU until retirement in 1987. While teaching at BYU, Arbizu continued to perform, both at University functions, and in other professional settings. In 1976-77 Arbizu traveled several times to Idaho Falls to give lessons to local singers and direct a program entitled A Taste of Opera. This led to the 1978 creation of the Idaho Falls Opera Theatre Company in which Ray Arbizu played a vital role. Arbizu also performed three times with the Utah Symphony and six times with the Tucson Opera of Arizona.

Arbizu was an excellent teacher and mentor. Many students and parents wrote letters to Arbizu, his Department Chair, and the University President, singing Arbizu's praises for his excellent instruction and passion for music and theater.


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