[Many thanks to David Lewis for bringing this item to our attention.] Alison Starling (ABC News) writes about Kennedy Center honoree Justino Díaz, whose daughters—Natascia and Katya Díaz—sang during the awards show as a tribute to their father. Also see previous post Justino Díaz: The Undersung Opera Star.
The Kennedy Center Honors will showcase legendary talent this week and among the group of honorees this year an opera superstar from Puerto Rico.
Alison Starling spoke with his daughter, a local actress, who got to perform on the big stage to honor her trailblazing dad. Justino Diaz and his soaring bass-baritone is an opera world treasure and he’s a household name in his native Puerto Rico. Diaz is also one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees, the first opera singer to earn the distinction in 12 years.
“I knew all my life that my father was a great contributor to opera. it’s an incredible honor and well, well, so richly deserved,” said daughter Natascia Diaz. “I always wanted him to shut up! he was so loud. I’d be like, papa, stop singing so loud!”
His most celebrated performance was in the movie Otello in 1986. Diaz remembers her dad’s villainous roles well. “I was always in the wings. When I was little he would be the bad guy in all the operas and I would cry, he’s really not that bad, he’s not a bad guy! But he relished it, it was his trademark!” she said.
Justino Diaz was honored this year alongside Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Berry Gordy and Lorne Michaels. Diaz is no stranger to the Kennedy Center, in fact, he was chosen as the opening performance here 50 years ago! “The first time I ever was here was to inaugurate this building thank you very much. In 1971 I opened this theatre, this opera house,” said Justino Diaz.
At the Library of Congress when he received his rainbow ribbon [. . .] the 82-year-old sang a few notes and during the star-studded awards show this week, Natascia Diaz and her sister, Katya, perform for their father. “Singing for our dad, a Puerto Rican bolero, and watching him cover his face, bursting into tears, that was pretty beautiful,” she said.
[Photos by Scott Suchman/for the Washington Post.]