News

[CD]

2011/09/26

After selling more than 500 copies of his tribute to Luis Mariano and the album "Sicilien", Roberto Alagna is back, this time with all the heat and colour of Latin America in his new album, "PASIÓN"! Available from October 31st…

[Live]

2011/09/09

Imagine going to Versailles... With "PASIÓN", the new album from Roberto Alagna, released on October 31st... 2 exceptional concerts on November 24th & 26th at the Royal Opera of Versailles. Not to be missed!

Biography

The story of a tenor...

Roberto Alagna’s career could well be made into a novel. He was born of Sicilian parents who settled in the Parisian suburbs. In the family everybody sang, and he was (as he was told) not the most talented: he was sometimes asked to be quiet when his uncle with the sunny voice sang. But Roberto had a calling. He honed his vocal technique by listening to the recordings of the great tenors of the past and by following the guidance of an old master, Rafael Ruiz. For years he spent his nights singing old tunes and playing the guitar in cabarets. But, deep inside, he was fond of opera, and his idol was Pavarotti. So, when the tenorissimo came to Paris to sign autographs in a department store, young Roberto sneaked through the crowd, managed to approach him and say a few words. The right words undoubtedly, because he was then invited to audition by the maestro. He went and earned a ticket to the finale of the Pavarotti Competition in Philadelphia – which he won. That was in 1988; he was twenty-four years old.

Alagna’s voice was then bright and radiant. It was the voice of the Italian tenor people dream about. Glyndebourne called him to play Alfredo in La traviata. He then performed in Monte Carlo, and soon after at La Scala with Riccardo Muti, portraying Alfredo with rare fervour. After that, he played the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, once again with Muti, and Rodolfo in La Bohème. In just a few years, the leading international stages, from New York to Vienna and London, opened their doors to him; eminent conductors were honoured to direct him; he was acclaimed everywhere.

His life took a new turn in 1994, when he was granted the role of Romeo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. The lyric prodigy displayed unheard-of sensitivity and diction. People wondered about his precursors: Vanzo? Thill? But he alone could bring such grandeur and poetry to the French scene. He was rightfully making history and, in 1995, received the most prestigious British theatre award, the Laurence Olivier Award, for this performance. Celebrated when he sang Italian repertoire, he had become a unique and indispensable asset to French repertoire. His characterization of Don Carlos in London and then in Paris in 1996, of Des Grieux, Werther, Faust, Don José and even Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor stood out and established him as one of the top singers of his time.

In the 2000s his voice broadened and darkened. He added key roles of Italian opera to his repertoire – Manrico, Canio, Radamès, and even excerpts from Otello. Enthusiastically pursuing his exploration of French roles, he relived long-forgotten operas: Lalo’s Fiesque in 2006, Massenet’s Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame in 2007 and Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac in 2005, which he performed with youthful flamboyance. Such curiosity attracted contemporary composers: Vladimir Cosma tailored for him the role of Marius in Marius et Fanny, premiered in 2007 in Marseille with his wife Angela Gheorghiu, and his brother David wrote for him Le Dernier Jour d’un condamné, premiered in July the same year. Few lyric artists have the ability to follow so many different paths!

Roberto Alagna’s discography reflects the scope of his musical curiosity. Under exclusive contract with EMI from 1993, he recorded the major operas of the French (Manon, Werther, Don Carlos, Carmen) and Italian repertoires (La Bohème, La rondine, Tosca, Il trovatore, Verdi’s Requiem). For other labels he recorded L’Elisir d’amore, Rigoletto and La traviata. He performed unusual recitals devoted to Berlioz or to rare arias of the French repertoire. In 2004 he signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. His first album at DG, Roberto Alagna chante Luis Mariano, brought him fame beyond the frontiers of the lyric art and went double platinum.

His album Sicilien, released at the end of 2008, was tremendously successful, with over 350,000 copies sold. Sicilien constitutes a return to his roots and introduces a lyric and popular repertoire. This success was prolonged by a national and international tour in 2009 and 2010 and by the release of a CD and DVD, recorded live in the Arena of Nîmes in August 2009.

DVDs hold a central place in this discography. Concerned about the truthfulness of theatre, Alagna reveals the range of his dramatic palette in very varied roles: a moving Nemorino (L’Elisir d’amore, Decca), an almost fragile Radamès (Aida, Decca), an enthusiastic Cyrano (DG). He even takes an interest in production techniques, for instance with Pagliacci (DG). Stage director Benoît Jacquot asked him to play Mario in the film version of Tosca (2001), which spotlights the performance of singer-actors.

Adopted by a broad public, Alagna appears in TV studios where he performs with pop singers, participates in charity concerts (“Michael Jackson & Friends”) or exceptional events – in 2002 and 2003 he sang for the Pope in Rome. On his own admission, the high point of his career remains his performance, on 14 July 2005, of the French national anthem on the Champs-Élysées, in front of the official gallery.

Although his recordings and performances have earned him the highest musical and official awards (he was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honour in 2008), Alagna is not idling his time away. His schedule for the coming years includes such major roles as Paolo in Francesca da Rimini, recently acclaimed in Paris and unanimously praised by the critics, in Le Cid, and Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur.

Alagna’s gamble has now paid off: he has become a popular singer, known and loved by a broad audience, without renouncing the standards of the great lyric repertoire. Better yet: his tours with the repertoire of Luis Mariano, comprised of traditional Sicilian songs, and soon with the Spanish repertoire, contested by some “purists”, allow Alagna ’s voice to ripen and let him enrich his artistic identity in contact with various audiences. We already knew about crossovers, that is when a lyric artist explores more popular territories – jazz, musicals or folk songs. Alagna has managed to merge two types of repertoire into a single career, which remains unique in the lyric world.

As a consequence, at an age when other tenors start to feel somewhat drained, Alagna tackles these great roles with unbelievable freshness on the world’s leading stages and at a pace no one but he could withstand. Add to that his continual risk taking and the surprising initiatives the tenor embarks on, as a result of a crush or by instinct.

To those artists (even the youngest of them) who are looking for the secret of eternal youth, Roberto Alagna could certainly provide an answer: generosity, a love for the audience... and unfailing enthusiasm!

Sylvain FORT

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