Roberto Alagna

French tenor in the world

The romance of
a tenor

The greatest venues and festivals everywhere have welcomed him, from the National Opera in Paris and the Metropolitan Opera in New York to London's Royal Opera House, the Chorégies in Orange, Berlin's Deutsche Oper and La Scala in Milan. In Roberto Alagna's 30-year career he has added over sixty roles to his repertoire, from Alfredo, Manrico and Nemorino to Calaf, Radamès, Otello, Rodolfo, Don José, Mario and Werther… all in performances which have made Alagna the most famous French tenor in the world. His taste for exploration has shown his love for less-common works, via productions, concerts and recordings of Massenet's Le jongleur de Notre-Dame or La Navarraise, Lalo's Fiesque, Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, Zandonaï's Francesca da Rimini or Puccini's Gianni Schicchi... Even two contemporary operas have been composed especially for him, Vladimir Cosma's Marius et Fanny, after Marcel Pagnol, and Le dernier jour d'un condamné, after Victor Hugo, which was composed by David Alagna with a libretto by Roberto and Frédérico Alagna, and staged for the first time in France in Avignon, in 2014, released in DVD in October 2014.

His success has naturally translated into recordings: Credo, Viva Opéra, Airs de Berlioz, Bel canto, more recently Robertissimo (a two-disc anthology featuring songs on one volume and arias on the other), Roberto Alagna chante Luis Mariano, Sicilien, or again Pasión, are just some of the numerous albums included in his discography, one of the richest that exist. His records have sold in millions, many of them certified Gold, Platinum, and even Double Platinum…

His prolific discography also testifies to the eclecticism of Roberto Alagna's career; bearing the indelible imprint of his passion for song, his recordings clearly illustrate his desire to break with convention. Beyond the frontiers of Opera, he has also successfully ventured into the world of traditional song, a crossover between genres which, as a complete vocal artist, Alagna has accomplished with the same commitment, generosity and sincerity, the same exacting rigour and technique, the same talent. And he has done so without the one ever detracting from the other. On the contrary, each continues to serve the other.

It shows his fertile musical eclecticism, something which has always been close to the tenor's heart, ever since his debuts, but this trait became a concrete reality with the album in tribute to Luis Mariano which he recorded in 2005, the year which marked his signature with Deutsche Grammophon. His subsequent triumphs have made Roberto Alagna an authentic popular artist, a personality loved by an ever-increasing public.

Seduced by every aspect of song, the tenor has since made regular incursions into popular music in the margins of his increasingly dense opera-schedule. In 2012/2013 for example, he gave some forty performances and recitals, tackling 14 different works including 4 role-creations. In parallel, his Little Italy tour, a spectacular tribute to his origins and to the music-culture of Italy in all its diversity, was a magnificent triumph in over fifteen French cities. In June 2014, Roberto Alagna appeared in Fès (Morocco) at the International Festival of World Sacred Music, creating an Event with a brand-new spectacular entitled Mediterraneo. Accompanied by a Middle-Eastern instrumental ensemble, Alagna drew from opera, religious and traditional repertoire lying at the crossroads of Western, Arab-Andalusian, Sicilian and Neapolitan influences. In these stage performances — and the creative work accompanying them —, Alagna has found new breathing as well as new resources, and also gained a particular aura, rare in the universe of Opera.

Two particular highlights in his career: his moving Marseillaise, which he sang on July 14th 2005 in front of the Presidential Tribune on the Champs-Elysées, and the recital he gave in 2009 in the prestigious setting of the Gardens of the Château de Versailles. In Versailles he drew a crowd of over 8000, a wide audience who came to listen to him sing famous arias from French operas, but also revive some forgotten works in that repertoire, partnered by an orchestra conducted by Michel Plasson.

Films have also solicited him, first for director Benoît Jacquot's Tosca (2001), and then for Roméo et Juliette directed by Barbara Willis Sweete in 2002. Onstage, as in these film-operas, Roberto Alagna has always given full measure of his acting talents, a gift for which, as early as 1995, he received the prestigious Laurence Olivier Prize for his London performance as Romeo (a British theatrical award rarely attributed to an opera artist.)

Open to innovation and experiment in the promotion of opera, Roberto Alagna has regularly given himself up to the exacting exercise of "live" television and film broadcasts (in Orange, France, and at New York's Metropolitan Opera). Convinced of the importance of DVD in the future of recorded opera, and of the interest which lies in the decompartmentalization of artistic disciplines, Roberto Alagna, together with his brothers David and Frédérico, has also made a commitment to original productions such as Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, Leoncavallo's Pagliacci or Massenet's Werther... Released early in 2014, the DVD of the latter production remained in the top French Music DVD charts for nine consecutive weeks, all music-genres combined.

His genuine love for an immoderate number of roles (and the genius of their composers) has made Alagna's discography as impressive as his insatiable curiosity for opera. With recordings for Erato, Sony, EMI and now Deutsche Grammophon these past ten years, his discography covers a wide range: complete sets, duets, oratorios, operas, anthologies of great works, religious and popular songs… They are as many landmarks which testify, both vocally and artistically, to the journey made since his debuts when, at the age of seventeen, singing in Parisian cabarets, he met the Cuban bassist and singer Rafaël Ruiz. Ruiz was to become his first singing-teacher. A few years later, in 1988, Alagna placed first in the Pavarotti Competition in Philadelphia, which gave decisive impetus to a career which he has continued to lead with constantly renewed rhythm, vitality and freshness.

Following a noticed and particularly committed debut as Otello (last summer in Orange, on the legendary stage of the Roman Amphitheater), primarily motivated by his passion for Voice, and still instinctively exploring new territories, Roberto Alagna approaches his many projects with enthusiasm and serenity. Apart from the release ofnew DVDs (Le dernier jour d'un condamné by David Alagna available since 20th October, Mediterraneo to appear) and forthcoming CDs —previously-unreleased opera recordings and a traditional songs' album —, his schedule in 2015 notably includes: Massenet's Werther in Bilbao in January, Le Cid and then Chausson's Le roi Arthus (first appearance) in Paris in March and May, Verdi's Il Trovatore in Orange in August, Meyerbeer's L'Africaine (first appearance) in Berlin in October, or also Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in November. In 2016, among other characters, he will pursue with Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, and will tackle further new roles, such as Rodolfo in Verdi's Luisa Miller and Éléazar in La Juive by Halévy.

His new album, “My life is an opera”, released in France on November 17, 2014, has been well-received and will be out in 2015 in many other countries. 15 previously-unreleased arias and duets recorded in London and conducted by French conductor Yvan Cassar, illustrating his career and his life: Roberto Alagna, 100% opera!

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