Luca Pisaroni Reaps Success in Houston Debut as Almaviva, Before Heading to Dallas for Beethoven and Glyndebourne for Rinaldo
The fast-rising Luca Pisaroni was a hit at Houston Grand Opera in his house and role debut last month as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. After opening night, the Houston Chronicle reported: “With his dashing looks and proud manner, Pisaroni exudes complete authority and magnetism. His potent bass-baritone unfurls with such grandeur and resoluteness that one can easily believe this is a fellow who has spent his entire life getting his way.” The singer has another engagement in the Lone Star State this month, singing in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (May 19-22). His next operatic engagement is another key role debut, when he returns to the U.K.’s Glyndebourne Festival to sing Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo (July 2 – Aug 22). Pisaroni also appears in a newly released EMI Classics DVD of Don Giovanni, starring as Leporello alongside the Don of Gerald Finley, Donna Elvira of Kate Royal, and Donna Anna of Anna Samuil. The DVD documents Glyndebourne’s first new production of Mozart’s iconic opera in ten years, with stage direction by Jonathan Kent and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. Pisaroni reprises his Leporello in a live Don Giovanni at Germany’s Baden-Baden Festival conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin (July 18-24).
Pisaroni sang the Count in Houston’s Le nozze after more than 100 performances in the opera as Figaro. The bass-baritone made a name for himself in the latter role, being the Figaro of choice for three new music directors this season: Nicola Luisotti at San Francisco Opera, Philippe Jordan at Opéra de Paris, and Franz Welser-Möst at the Vienna State Opera. Switching parts in Mozart’s subversive comic masterpiece – from working-class hero Figaro to his upper-crust nemesis – was a “thrilling opportunity,” Pisaroni explained, adding: “I see this debut as the first stone in my process of building the bridge between roles like Figaro, Leporello, and Guglielmo – which are closer to my personality – and the ultimate goal, which is Don Giovanni.”
After appearing with the Dallas Symphony under Jaap van Zweden in Beethoven’s Ninth this month, Pisaroni sings in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst on May 26 and 28. And before reprising his Leporello at the Baden-Baden Festival, Pisaroni returns to Glyndebourne on July 2, when he unveils his portrayal of another new “bad guy,” Argante in Rinaldo.
Born in Venezuela and bred in Verdi’s hometown of Busseto, Italy, Luca Pisaroni has established himself as one of the most captivating singers of his generation – from his debut at the Salzburg Festival at age 26, with the Vienna Philharmonic under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, to his successful run as Leporello last summer, in a hit new production of Don Giovanni at the Glyndebourne Festival.
Opera News got to the crux of Pisaroni’s mix of theatrical and vocal flair, saying: “Pisaroni’s vocal personality is akin to the brewing of an inner storm that is then distilled into a well-articulated purity of emotion. The singer’s dramatic versatility cannot be overstated: his ability to execute written notes with consummate tone, translated directly into the essence of feeling.”
Born in 1975, Pisaroni received his musical education at Milan’s Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi and in Buenos Aires and New York. About growing up in Busseto, he has said: “You feel Verdi’s spirit all over the place! My family moved back to Italy when I was four. As a kid, I used to go to the opera with my grandfather, and when I was eleven, I already knew I wanted to be an opera singer.”
Pisaroni is also a budding recital artist, having triumphed this season at two prestigious venues: London’s Wigmore Hall and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. After his recital of Schubert, Liszt, and Rossini in London, the Financial Times praised Pisaroni’s “arresting” interpretations and “emotional agility,” before remarking on the bass-baritone’s ability to invest “his whole body in the performance, uttering lines with characteristic speech-like eloquence.”
Commanding a diverse repertoire, Pisaroni has appeared at many of the world’s top opera houses and music festivals. He has sung his signature role of Mozart’s Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra National de Paris (Bastille), and the Salzburg Festival; Leporello at Teatro Real de Madrid, Opéra Bastille, and at the Tanglewood Music Festival with the Boston Symphony under James Levine; Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at Glyndebourne; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte at Théatre des Champs-Elysées; Melisso in Handel’s Alcina at Opéra Bastille; Hercules in Gluck’s Alceste at Salzburg; Conte Dorval in Martin y Soler’s Il burbero di buon cuore at Teatro Real; Alidoro in La Cenerentola for Santiago de Chile; Enrico in Haydn’s L’isola disabitata at Vienna’s Musikverein; Publio in La clemenza di Tito at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; Achilla in Giulio Cesare at La Monnaie; and Douglas d’Angus in Rossini’s La donna del lago at Salzburg. He was awarded the Vienna State Opera’s Eberhard Wächter Medal as “Newcomer of the Season” for his portrayal of Figaro in 2001.
In recent seasons, Pisaroni has appeared as the King of Scotland in Ariodante at Theater an der Wien, the title role in Cavalli’s Ercole amante with De Nederlandse Opera, and Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas for the Wiener Festwochen. Of his Santa Fe Opera debut in Radamisto, the Financial Times wrote, “One could hardly imagine a more vibrant villain than the bass Luca Pisaroni’s limber, gorgeously sung Tiridate.”
In concert, Pisaroni has performed Hasse’s I pellegrini al sepolcro di Nostro Signore at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and Cherubini’s Missa solemnis for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under the baton of Riccardo Muti; Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri with Sir Simon Rattle and the Philadelphia Orchestra in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall; Zebul in Handel’s Jephtha with the Berlin Philharmonic under Harnoncourt; Haydn’s Il ritorno di Tobia with Adam Fischer at Vienna’s Konzerthaus; and Bach’s St. John Passion at the Théatre du Chatelet. He has also sung in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with John Nelson at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Mozart’s Requiem with Yuri Temirkanov for the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem under Edo de Waart, and Handel’s La resurrezione with Il Giardino Armonico. Besides his activities in opera and concert, Pisaroni is an ardent and dedicated recitalist, having performed at the Ravinia Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, and the Wigmore Hall, among other top venues.
DG’s acclaimed “Mozart 22” DVD series from the Salzburg Festival features Pisaroni’s performances as Publio and Masetto. Further DVD releases include his highly acclaimed portrayal of Guglielmo in Nicholas Hytner’s production of Così fan tutte from Glyndebourne; Le nozze di Figaro at Théatre des Champs-Elysées; and Così fan tutte, Figaro, and Ercole amante (his personal DVD favorite) with the Nederlandse Opera. His Leporello is documented in a new EMI DVD of Don Giovanni. Most recently, Pisaroni recorded La resurrezione for Virgin Classics.
Luca Pisaroni lives in Vienna with his wife, Catherine (daughter of famed American baritone Thomas Hampson). Their golden retriever, Lenny, and miniature dachshund, Tristan, are the singer’s constant traveling companions.