Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, who has proven to be an up-and-coming vocal and dramatic draw on both sides of the Atlantic, looks forward to capping his season with a high-profile European summer schedule. He returns to the U.K.’s Glyndebourne Festival to make his role debut as Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo (July 2 – Aug 22), as well as appearing in the same production at London’s world-famous BBC Proms festival on August 25. As Leporello, Pisaroni appears on a new, star-studded EMI Classics DVD of Don Giovanni, recorded last summer at Glyndebourne; anticipating his Metropolitan Opera role debut as Leporello next season, he also plays the part this summer at Germany’s Baden-Baden Festival under Yannick Nézet-Séguin (July 18-24).

Rinaldo was the opera with which Handel made his sensational London debut, as well as being the first Italian opera written specifically for the British stage. Glyndebourne’s first staging of Rinaldo sees Pisaroni starring as “the bad guy” Argante alongside Sonia Prina in the title role of the heroic crusader and Anett Fritsch as his beloved, Almirena. The production features the period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Ottavio Dantone. Pisaroni offered his insights into playing Argante in an interview for the Glyndebourne Festival newsletter. Asked if he was looking forward to making his debut in the role, the singer replied:

“Very much. He is the Saracen King of Jerusalem plotting with Armida against Rinaldo. He is a classic anti-hero. One of the fascinating aspects of being a stage performer is that you are able to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ for a couple of hours. There are two kinds of roles: the ones close to your own personality – in my case that could be Figaro – or the ones completely different than you. I love to play the crazy, evil, and broken characters. In summer 2008, I had the chance to play both Figaro and Tiridate [in Handel’s Radamisto] at Santa Fe Opera. While Figaro is fun, lively, and in love, Tiridate is abusive, controlling, and violent. It was great fun to explore such different personalities simultaneously. When asked if it’s more fun to play the good or the bad guy, I would say definitely the bad guy – in life you never get away with being the bad guy! On stage, you do and everyone loves it. So, I am really looking forward to being the ‘evil’ King of Jerusalem at Glyndebourne.”

BBC Music magazine praised the new EMI Classics DVD of Don Giovanni as one that would have listeners “shivering with the best of them,” adding that “Gerald Finley as the Don and Luca Pisaroni’s nimble Leporello play a thought-provoking double act.” The cast also includes the 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 Vladimir Jurowski conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Born in Venezuela and bred in Verdi’s hometown of Busseto, Italy, Pisaroni established himself as one of the most captivating singers of his generation with his debut at the Salzburg Festival at age 26 with the Vienna Philharmonic under Nikolaus Harnoncourt. His 2010-11 season included being the Figaro of choice in productions of Le nozze di Figaro for three new music directors: Nicola Luisotti at San Francisco Opera, Philippe Jordan at Opéra de Paris, and Franz Welser-Möst at the Vienna State Opera.

Gaining renown for his dramatic versatility, Pisaroni made his house and role debuts this spring at Houston Grand Opera as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, this after more than 100 performances in the same Mozart opera as Figaro. About his performance as the Count, the Houston Chronicle said: “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.”

Opera News got to the crux of the Italian singer’s talents, 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.”