Press Room

Luca Pisaroni makes his Houston Grand Opera debut

An up-and-comer on both sides of the Atlantic, Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni will make his Houston Grand Opera debut in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro during an April 15-30 run that marks his debut in the role of Count Almaviva.  Pisaroni has already made a name for himself in the opera’s title role, having been the Figaro of choice for three new music directors this season: Nicola Luisotti at San Francisco Opera, Philippe Jordan at Opéra National de Paris, and Franz Welser-Möst at the Vienna State Opera.
Switching roles in Mozart’s subversive comic masterpiece – from Figaro to his nemesis, the Count – is a “thrilling opportunity,” Pisaroni says:
“After 100 performances as Figaro, it will be so interesting to play his opponent.  I love Figaro, and this role will stay in my repertoire for many years, but it’s time to explore the opera’s other major male character.  Mozart wrote fantastic music for the Count.  Especially the second act and the beginning of the third act, which are so rich in drama that I dove into the score all over again to study and explore all the different emotions the Count goes through in such a short period of time.  I also 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.”
Making his Houston Grand Opera debut is another exciting prospect, Pisaroni explains:
“Houston has such a great tradition as one of the most active opera companies in the country.  It’s particularly impressive, the list of operas that were premiered in Houston – A Quiet Place, Nixon in China, Little Women, and Brief Encounter, to name a few.  I hope to get the chance to participate in a project like this at some point in my career.  Singing in a world premiere is one of the most fascinating musical adventures I can imagine.”
Born in Venezuela and bred in Verdi’s hometown of Busseto, Italy, 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.
Pisaroni is also a budding recital artist, having triumphed this month at two prestigious venues: London’s Wigmore Hall and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.  About his recital of Schubert, Liszt, and Rossini in London, the Financial Times offered extended praise of the program’s thematic subtleties, as well as of Pisaroni’s “arresting” interpretations:
“Schubert’s Italianate buffo aria that opened the concert, ‘Il modo di prender moglie,’ owes a certain debt to Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, while Liszt composed his first original songs immediately after transcribing those by Rossini and Schubert.  These chains of influence are implied in the songs’ harmonic inflections and their wide melodic range.  Pisaroni flagged up their common traits, dressing them in burnished tones and luxuriating in their bittersweet excesses.  But the most arresting aspect of this recital was Pisaroni’s emotional agility as he pivoted between the cynicism of ‘Il modo di prender moglie’ and the wide-eyed earnestness of Schubert’s other offering ‘L’incanto degli occhi’; between the irreverence of Rossini’s Parisian salon piece ‘L’orgia’ and the morbid shades of Liszt’s ‘Die Vätergruft.’  Pisaroni invested his whole body in the performance, uttering lines with characteristic speech-like eloquence.”
In May, Pisaroni will continue his string of high-profile U.S. engagements, appearing with the Dallas Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra.  In Dallas, Pisaroni sings in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under Jaap van Zweden (May 19, 21, & 22), and, in Cleveland, takes part in Rossini’s Stabat Mater under Franz Welser-Möst (May 26 and 28).
This summer, Pisaroni reappears on the stages of Europe, returning to Glyndebourne to make his role debut as Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo (July 2 – Aug 22), and then reprising Leporello in Don Giovanni, this time under Yannick Nézet-Séguin at Germany’s Baden-Baden Festival (July 18-24).
Opera News got to the crux of Pisaroni’s mix of theatrical and vocal flair:
“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.”
Luca Pisaroni
Born in 1975, Luca Pisaroni received his musical education at the Milan Conservatory and in Buenos Aires and New York.  About growing up in Busseto, he says: “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.”
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 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 Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; Achilla in Giulio Cesare at La Monnaie in Brussels; 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 Nikolaus Harnoncourt; Haydn’s Il ritorno di Tobia with Adám 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 Paris’s 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 Wigmore Hall, among other top venues.
The 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.  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.
Luca Pisaroni: upcoming engagements
April 15, 17, 23, 27, & 30
Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
Houston, Texas
Houston Grand Opera / James Gaffigan
May 19, 21, & 22
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Dallas, Texas
Dallas Symphony Orchestra / Jaap van Zweden
May 26 & 28
Rossini: Stabat Mater
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst
July 2, 6, 9, & 13; August 1, 5, 7, 10, 15, 17, 20, & 22
Handel: Rinaldo
Glyndebourne Festival, U.K.
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Ottavio Dantone
July 18, 21, & 24
Mozart: Don Giovanni
Baden-Baden, Germany
Mahler Chamber Orchestra / Yannick Nézet-Séguin

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