Carlos Seise: An international operatic tenor in West Michigan

There is a hidden gem living in West Michigan who has been singing as an opera tenor for more than 40 years. Carlos Seise was born in New York City, raised in Puerto Rico, and now resides in Grand Haven. When he was 16 years old and living in Puerto Rico, a teacher told him he had a good voice for classical singing. The encouraging words inspired Seise to start working with a private singing coach to help prepare him for an audition, which led to his acceptance to the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. From there, his professional career began.

Traveling the world as a professional tenor

“After Puerto Rico [where he performed the “Carmina Burana”] my first trip internationally was the Dominican Republic with the symphony orchestra,” says Seise. “The conductor of that orchestra recommended me to a group in New York City that tours around the world. I was accepted to a group that tours during the summer months. I worked with them for three years, and we went to many countries in Europe and Africa. That opportunity gave me the opportunity to open my relationships and network and other companies. Little by little I increased my ability to sing more often.”

Since then, Seise, now 61, has traveled the world, sharing his gift of singing. Even though his touring has slowed as he gets older, this year he will be singing in Philadelphia, Miami, Boston, Bridgeport, Phoenix, Seattle, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Seise has noticed two things as he has gotten older: his voice gets stronger, and his openness to share his knowledge with younger singers becomes more important. He is hoping his voice continues to stay strong, so that he can sing well into his 70s.

“The voice gets better with age,” says Seise. “You learn more and skill sets are higher. Although the body is not the same, the vocal cords do not change if you treat them correctly, and if you take care of them. I need to take care of my body. I need to make sure my cardio is the best that I can be.”
Courtesy of Carlos Seise
Sharing his knowledge with other while still performing

Seise has tutored more than a dozen West Michigan-area singers including Garrett Borns, Nathan Walton, Eric O’Daly, Max Lockwood, Bari Lee, Loren Johnson and Roger Gonda.

“Now that I’m older, there is more responsibility to the form of the art,” says Seise. “I need to pass this knowledge. I was trained by the best in the world. I have sung with the best and been conducted by the best in the world. I have a lot of things that I can pass on to the next generation. I try to help them with their voices and their careers — not only as a singer but the other things that the business requires. The majority of my coaching vocally is to have them get rid of their obstacles that singing can bring to you, so when you’re in the state of singing you are not thinking of the mechanics of your singing.”

When it comes down to it though, Seise just loves to sing and perform and feels he was born to do it. More than a year ago as the pandemic waned across the globe, Seise and Brazilian bass vocalist Luiz Ottavio-Faria met in Michigan to perform “Ardir Ha Forza Il Cielo.” It is a song about a young man’s unrequited love for the woman of his dreams. Seise, the young man, sings to  Ottavio-Faria’s character who is trying to sell Seise a fake potion that will help the woman fall in love with him. The two older singers play out the song as though it were a movie scene, and it is clear that both are having a fantastic time during the Youtube performance. Seise wishes to remind everyone that opera singing is also acting.

Retire? Not likely!

Michigan became his home 24 years ago after he met his future wife at a concert in Detroit. He does not sing much in his now home state of Michigan as he considers it a place to recharge and rest. Grand Haven has been that place for him and his wife. Although the culture and weather are very different from where he was raised, he admits that both places have one thing in common:  kind people.

His career has been long, so naturally many have asked him when he will retire, but he tells them that as long as his voice is still strong he will continue to sing and share this gift that has been given to him.

“It is very hard to retire from a gift,” says Seise. “The day I cannot sing anymore, I will teach. For me when I’m singing, I want to click with people’s souls. When I’m singing, I am cleansing the dust of their souls and you are doing the same to me. The audience with their ovations with their response to me, it cleanses the dust of my soul too, so it is very hard to retire from that…everybody has a gift or talent. Whatever that person does with that talent that gift, it will be your gift to the world. Everybody has to do their little part and if they do, I can guarantee this world would be a better place.”

Bill Lee is a journalist and freelance writer who lives in Lowell, Michigan. He enjoys sharing his fiction, family humor columns and stories about real people. You can contact him at [email protected] or find more of his writing at
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