Luca Pisaroni Reprises his Figaro in Munich and Vienna, then Plays Title Role of Rossini Rarity Maometto II in Santa Fe
Luca Pisaroni has already had a banner year, including his universally praised debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago as Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo (“terrific,” according to the Huffington Post) and a recital of Schubert and Liszt at Lincoln Center (which the New York Times lauded for his “keen dramatic instincts”). The Italian bass-baritone’s spring and summer promise to be just as exciting, starting with him reprising his star-making role of Figaro in productions of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (May 3-13) and at the Vienna State Opera (June 3-13). This summer, Pisaroni will carry the title role in Santa Fe Opera’s world premiere of the new critical edition of Rossini’s Maometto II (July 14-August 16). He will also perform in concerts at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in July, and he caps his summer with a solo recital at the Edinburgh International Festival (August 23).
Rossini’s Maometto II, a love story set against a backdrop of the Venetian colony of Negroponte, includes some show-stopping coloratura arias. See this YouTube interview for Pisaroni’s thoughts on the opera’s “very relevant” story for today, as it tells of an impossible love set amid struggles between the worlds of Christianity and Islam. He also talks about how “incredibly challenging vocally” the role of Maometto II is – and how his “jaw dropped to the floor” when he saw Samuel Ramey sing it at La Scala in 1994, which sparked Pisaroni’s desire to take up the part someday. Directed by David Alden, the Santa Fe Opera production of Maometto II (July 14-August 16) will see Pisaroni sing alongside Leah Crocetto (Anna) and Patricia Bardon (Calbo).
March was a great month for Pisaroni, beginning with his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Argante in a new production of Handel’s Rinaldo, reprising a role that he played to acclaim at the U.K.’s Glyndebourne Festival last summer. The Chicago Sun-Times confirmed that Pisaroni possessed all “the swagger, the deep sounds, the looks and the acting chops” to play the treacherous Argante, while the New York Times said that he made for “a virile-voiced, impetuous” Saracen king. The Chicago Tribune marveled over Pisaroni’s “strong, firm” bass-baritone voice, which “fairly shook the Ardis Krainik Theatre to its foundation.” Declaring Pisaroni “terrific,” the Huffington Post singled out a scene in which he and Elza van den Heever as Armida “sang a memorable duet rolling around on the floor in hot embrace while plotting their attack.” Chicago Classical Review concluded: “Luca Pisaroni as Argante was an inspired heavy, making a fiery and imposing entrance with “Sibillar gli angui d’Aletto.” The Italian bass-baritone has an ample yet elegant voice and impressive flexibility, able to get around the corners of virtuosic runs.”
Pisaroni also appeared alongside tenor Michael Schade in a recital as part of Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Song” series and for a similar program at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall. After describing Pisaroni as “an exciting young bass-baritone whose career is sharply in the ascendant,” The New York Times review singled out his four solo selections from Schubert’s Schwanengesang and three intense Liszt songs, lauding the performances for their “assurance, refinement and keen dramatic instincts.” The ConcertoNet review of the Toronto recital did the same, particularly taken with “the grandeur” of his way with the Liszt.
In March and April, Pisaroni joined his father-in-law, baritone great Thomas Hampson, for duo recitals. The first was in New York at a private performance benefiting Classical Action – their first U.S. appearance together. The two also teamed for a recital of Mozart, Rossini, Verdi and more at the Heidelberg Spring International Music Festival in Germany, the festival’s first concert to stream live on the Web.
Born in Venezuela and bred in Verdi’s hometown of Busseto, Italy, Luca Pisaroni established himself as one of his generation’s most captivating singers 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 debut last spring at Houston Grand Opera as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, this after more than 100 performances in Mozart’s 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.”