A prominent bass-baritone makes his mark at the Met as Don Juan’s wingman.  By David Shengold

Luca Pisaroni, a dashing bass-baritone born in Venezuela and raised in Italy, has become one of the Metropolitan Opera’s most dependably exciting performers. With a dark, agile voice, sterling musicianship and curly-haired good looks, Pisaroni, still in his thirties, may someday take on opera’s No. 1 Don Juan himself. For now, he revels in the part of Leporello, the titular rake’s all-important wingman, a role Pisaroni plays in a new Met Don Giovanni helmed by renowned theatrical director Michael Grandage (Frost/Nixon, Red).

A seemingly inborn command of Mozart has been a constant in Pisaroni’s impressive international career, which has included an appearance at the Salzburg Festival while still in his mid-twenties. He’s been the Guglielmo (Così fan tutte’s alpha male) and the marriage-bound Figaro of choice for many theaters, and recently took on the role of Figaro’s snarky romantic rival, Count Almaviva. Pisaroni’s rascally, rich-voiced Leporello can seen on a DVD filmed at England’s Glyndebourne Festival.

Mariusz Kwiecien, a no less debonair baritone and an acclaimed Giovanni, calls Pisaroni’s interpretation marvelous: “Luca and I are a great team onstage. If I forget something, he’s there for me, and the same the other way around. We have great fun.” The pair forms the fulcrum of an ensemble that includes Ramón Vargas, Barbara Frittoli, and two beautiful newcomers to the Met and the Don’s “little list”: Marina Rebeka and Mojca Erdmann. All perform under the baton of Fabio Luisi, the Met’s newly appointed principal conductor.

Editor’s note: After press time, Mariusz Kwiecien sustained an injury during the final dress rehearsal of Don Giovanni and was forced to withdraw from the premiere. The role will be played by Peter Mattei on Oct 13.