Giuseppe Filianoti as Ruggero in Puccini's "La Rondine."
Taken during the rehearsal on January 8, 2013 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. (Photo : Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera )
On Jan. 11, the Metropolitan Opera will revive its production of "La Rondine." Among the stars performing in the Giacomo Puccini opera is Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti who recently conversed with this Latinos Post writer on an array of topics ranging from his history at the Met as well as future projects.
Filianoti recently headlined an all-star cast this past fall at the Met in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito" which was broadcast live to movie theaters around the world as part of the opera company's Live in HD series. Regarding the experience of performing in front of cameras, Filianoti mentioned that he takes a more "measured and calculated" approach to his acting. "The style of acting has to be more natural and you have to concentrate so you always remain completely in character. It is best to avoid big gestures and melodramatic actions," Filianoti said.
On Friday night's performance of "La Rondine," Filianoti will be sharing the stage with Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais, who will be making her Met debut. Regarding the prospect of performing with a debutante, the thirty-nine year old tenor mentioned that the experience does not change for him. "I want every performance to be fresh and spontaneous, so there is no difference between performing with someone who is making her debut and with someone with whom I have worked many times," said Filianoti.
Filianoti made his professional debut in 1998 and has since turned into one of the rising stars in the opera world. Born in Reggio Calabria in 1974, the Italian tenor originally received a degree in literature before turning to music. "My intention was to become a writer, but then music took over. No regrets at all now, but I still have a great love for literature. I read many, many books and I consider reading relaxing and a great retreat from real life," said Filianoti.
During his ensuing conservatory years, Filianoti met noted Spanish tenor Alfredo Kraus who he claims is his greatest mentor and idol.
In 1998 Filianoti made his debut at Bergamo in Donizetti's "Dom Sebastian" and his career took off. He has since performed at a number of notable houses in Europe including La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Rome's Teatro dell 'Opera. His American debut came in 2005 at the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Edgardo in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" and he has since sung with such noted American companies as the San Francisco Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago among others.
After his run of "La Rondine" at the Met, Filianoti will be returning to perform for a number of these companies, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago where he will be playing one of his calling-card roles of the Duke of Mantua in Giuseppe Verdi's "Rigoletto." After Chicago, he heads to Trieste to sing "Tito" once more before heading to Munich to take on Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann," another signature role. After "Hoffmann," Filianoti makes his debut at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence in "Rigoletto."
One of the most interesting aspects of Filianoti's career is that he has always been particular about picking his repertoire and a number of roles he sings are not often performed. The tenor has sung in such rarities as Igor Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress," Arrigo Boito's "Mefistofele," Donizetti's "Lucrezia Borgia" and "Dom Sebastian" and Rossini's "Moise et Pharaon." The tenor says that the choices in his repertoire come "from a musical consideration of the opera, then from the dramaturgical point. If I think the opera has beautiful music which is also congenial to my voice and if the character is interesting, then the choice is made."
Among the roles that he will be adding to the repertoire in coming years are Gabriele Adorno in Giuseppe Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra" and Jacopo Foscari in "I Due Foscari (also by Verdi)." He will be making this debut in an upcoming production in Hamburg.
The tenor also mentioned that he would be taking on the role of Pelléas in Debussy's magnum opus "Pelléas et Mélisande" in a "couple of years" though he did not specify how soon or where. He mentioned that Pelléas was one of his "dream roles." Another special role that the tenor would like to take on is that of Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes." Filianoti enthusiastically asserts that the work is a masterpiece and that "Peter Grimes is a very particular character. Usually, one associates the character with brutality and murder. Instead I would make the character very different, much more "beautiful and damned", suffering and troubled because he is never accepted by society, and very unhappily involved in these murders. A sort of James Dean."
Filianoti did not mention what his future plans at the Met are, but he did state that he would be returning in future seasons and did not shy away from expressing his admiration for the great company. "Singing at the Met is always a thrill. Everyone who works in this theater understands how to help an artist and put you at ease,' said Filianoti.
"Every time I come back, I feel like I am part of a big family."