Tuesday, May 21, 2024


An original idea, this collective interview the French-Sicilian tenor Roberto Alagna granted to his public. He invited them on his Facebook page to ask their most varied questions about the role to which he is getting ready, preparing the 2nd and 5th August performances at the Chorégies d’Orange Festival: Otello by Verdi and Boito, from Shakespeare… If this role, coming in the middle of a brilliant operatic career, is highly anticipated and discussed by all, it is primarily anticipated by the artist himself. The passion led him to take up the challenge of a new role. And the enthusiasm for his work seems to be the pivot of his life each time he is tackling a new role.

10556986_780660908641165_5541744919615924532_oThe four videos in French recorded in a simple and pragmatic way between two rehearsing sessions of the Verdi’s masterpiece in Orange are lying between the interview and the conference. We understand that he is expecting an additional experience from that Otello, the discovery and excitement from a new challenge … Roberto appears passionate, explains, thinks, exposes both personal and collective considerations, with a natural, availability, depth of analysis and ability of introspection into his character that fill the listener with admiration: he is a specialist, an interesting storyteller, cultured, pleasant to listen to, clear and concrete.

A singer rarely reveals his reading of his character, especially for a role debut with all the surrounding unavoidable human emotion it contains. The audience watches, listens to, judges … But Roberto / Otello is strong, his voice is beautiful, he is a fine performer and a great actor … essential requirements for the role of Otello.

10430508_300647183447252_5566001198602961069_nWe enjoy learning from his mouth how he sees “his” Otello. He gives us his views about the character, the story, the nuances and interpretation he will implement on the Orange stage. Otello is a Berber Muslim, a complex character who has in his heart the same storm that precedes the “Esultate” in the score. His drama, as Aida, is also the drama of the integration, of racism. He continues his speech. According to Roberto, Otello is a “leopard”, he has a great command of himself, a king of own nobility, he implores, he is not hateful. His part of the score is full of lyricism and the musical sentences of Verdi stress it to perfection.

And what about Otello’s voice? Roberto does not neglect this aspect of course, he examines and dissects it. He insists that Verdi wrote this role for a “Bel canto” tenor, a lyrical one. The so-called “Verdean” tenor voice is coming later. The genius from Busseto first used “Bel canto” voices … The “cupo” requested by Verdi means “sad” foremost, not necessarily dark in essence…. So Otello’s voice must be heroic, sunny, a pure contrast in the color with the baritone voice of Iago, like a duet between a violin and a cello, seeking for a perfect harmony. For him, it was probably a predestined role. It was the wish of his first professor, Rafael Ruiz, early in his career.

This is a role that certainly moves his performer. This emotion can endanger the voice, if the singer is overwhelmed by the sentiment … And in terms of proven and expressed feelings, Alagna is a volcano. It’s also a matter of knowing how to face such a role at the right time in a career. Not too early, but it should not be either postponed too long, holding the false belief that this is a role for a career-end. Because then it could be too late. Find the right time is the point…

10406444_780659845307938_3807793190559258538_nThese simple videos are telling on their own and we can learn a lot, even in regard to the speaker himself, his character, his way of working, his understanding of the work and tastes, the whole expressed with a burning and inexhaustible passion. This is the artistic choice of a lifetime.

What will be Roberto Alagna’s Otello? With the simplicity and spontaneity that characterizes him, he has the knack of being loved by all. We had a foretaste on June 27th at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, where he performed a large part of the role in a concert version conducted by Riccardo Frizza and alongside the soprano Inva Mula, who portrays Desdemona also in Orange. His long-standing collaboration and friendship with the stage artistic director Nadine Duffaut will do the rest in this “magic” place of the Ancient Theater of Orange. Magic, but so fearful for singers because of the outside climatic conditions, the vastness of the place and the acoustics specificities that are of course not supported by any amplification.

This will certainly be a very personal Otello, resulting from a deep analysis reflecting the perception of the artist, the heart of the man, the intelligence of the maestro … in a word, a GREAT Otello.



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