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 his 30-year career, French-Sicilian tenor Roberto Alagna has added over sixty roles to his repertoire: Alfredo, Calaf, Canio, Cavaradossi, Don Carlo(s), Don Jose, Faust, Manrico, Maurizio, Nemorino, Otello, Radames, Rodolfo, Romeo, Ruggero, Turiddu, Werther…, all in performances which have made Alagna the most famous French tenor in the world. Also, his taste for exploration has shown his love for lesser-known or long-forgotten repertory, via productions, concerts and recordings he championed such as Massenet’s Le jongleur de Notre-Dame, Le Cid or La Navarraise, Lalo’s Fiesque, Zandonaï’s Francesca da Rimini, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Le roi Arthus by Chausson and L’enfant prodigue by Debussy… He sang as well in Meyerbeer’s Vasco da Gama, a very rarely staged critical edition of L’Africaine. In 2017 at the Metropolitan Opera, he revived a flamboyant Cyrano de Bergerac by Alfano in its original version of 1935 (acknowledged as the “Alagna’s version” in the reissued score by Ricordi). 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 Frederico Alagna, premiered on stage in France in 2014 and released in DVD.
A prolific discography, a fertile eclecticism
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 vocal art. Exclusive artist with EMI (1993–2004) then Deutsche Grammophon (2005-2017), he signed in 2017 with Sony Classical. With recordings for Erato, Sony, EMI and Deutsche Grammophon these past ten years, his discography is one of the richest that exists and covers a wide range: complete sets, duets, oratorios, operas, anthologies of great works, religious and popular songs. Credo, Viva Opéra, Airs de Berlioz, Bel canto, Robertissimo, Luis Mariano, Sicilian, Pasión are some of his numerous albums, reflecting the musical eclecticism of his career. His records have sold in millions. He was praised for his album released in late 2014, My life is an Opera, an emotional recital of arias and duets illustrating his career and personal story as a librettist’s tale. In fall 2016, he brought out a songs’ album, Malèna, offering original creations as well as reinterpreted great Neapolitan classics. In October 2018, Sony released his first duets album fully dedicated to Puccini, recorded with soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, and Warner Classics a full recording of La Navarraise by Massenet. A brand-new solo album – a tribute to great tenor Caruso – is expected before year-end 2019.
A strong appetite for search and creation
Going off the beaten path, constantly exploring new styles and ideas – both on disc, on stage and on tour, Roberto Alagna clearly revealed his desire to give his audience more and to feed his appetite for permanent search and creation. The fertile eclecticism which has always been close to the tenor’s heart is a testament of his roots. As well as of the rich artistic road travelled since his debuts when, at the age of 17, 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.
Seduced by every aspect of singing, the tenor has made regular incursions into popular music: in complement of his increasingly intense opera-schedule, he successfully ventured into the world of traditional song, a crossover between genres, with the same commitment, generosity and sincerity, the same exacting rigor and technique. With him, each genre continues to serve the other. His success in this area made Roberto Alagna an authentic popular artist, a personality loved by an ever-increasing public.
From 2009, he met a huge success with his live tours (Mariano, Sicilian, Pasión …). In 2013 his Little Italy shows, a spectacular tribute to his origins and to the diversity of the Italian musical culture, were a magnificent triumph in over fifteen French cities. In 2014, Roberto Alagna appeared in Fès (Morocco) at the International Festival of World Sacred Music, creating an event with a brand-new show 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. A DVD of the concert is released in 2015, accompanying a Christmas album: Noël. In 2016, he successfully brought to Australia a concert show blending both great operatic arias and popular songs that reflect his musical background. He more than once reiterated the experience of creating such programs across the world, showcasing his unique ability to keep his tenor instrument true to the style of what he is singing.
In these stage performances — and the creative achievement it implies —, Alagna found new breathing and resources, and also gained a particular aura, rare in the universe of Opera. His moving performance of the French national anthem La Marseillaise, sang on July 14th 2005 in front of the Presidential Tribune on the Champs-Elysées, remains a memorable highpoint. The recital he gave in 2009 in the prestigious setting of the Gardens of the Château de Versailles impressed a lot as well. For this appearance, 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.
An all-round artist
Roberto Alagna appears widely on DVD. 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. On stage, as in these film-operas, Roberto Alagna has always given full measure of his acting talents, a gift for which, as early as 1995, for his London performance as Romeo, he received the prestigious Laurence Olivier Prize (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 Frederico, got also personally involved in the creation of 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.
Still exploring new artistic grounds, Roberto Alagna appeared regularly on French TV, in special programs or dedicated musical shows in the preparation of which he is involved (Roberto Alagna sings Christmas, Roberto Alagna sings the Kingdom-of-the-Two-Sicilies in Versailles, Roberto Alagna’s greatest duets …)
He inspired books and documentary films. After having told his family saga in a first book (Je ne suis pas le fruit du hasard – Alagna/Mazingarbe, Ed. Grasset), he picked up his own pen in 2018 to write his « personal dictionnary », following the proposal of his friend Alain Duault (Mon dictionnaire intime – Alagna/Duault, Ed. Le Passeur).
A contagious passion for voice and stage
Primarily motivated by his passion for voice, Roberto Alagna approaches his many projects with enthusiasm and serenity. On the operatic stage, his last appearances are reflecting all the breadth of his repertoire. Over the last 3 years, he took on several new roles, e.g. Des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Metropolitan Opera, Azaël in L’enfant prodigue by Debussy in concert in Paris, Eleazar in Halévy’s La Juive in Munich. KS Alagna made great debuts as Samson in Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saëns in Vienna. In 2018/2019, he opened the Metropolitan Opera’s season with a new production of this work and sung for the first time Rodolfo in Luisa Miller in concert version in Monte-Carlo. After having sung his 100th performance at the Opera de Paris in March 2019 during a run of 10 performances as Otello, he sang as well his 100th performance at the Royal Opera House as Andrea Chenier in May 2019.
In the nearest future, he will make his debut in Fedora at the Teatro Alla Scala and will among others perform in Don Carlo in Paris, Cavalleria/Pagliacci in Barcelona, La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, Turandot in Vienna, Pagliacci at The Royal Opera in London, and Samson et Dalila in Orange.
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> Marinella Alagna | http://www.marinellaalagnamanagement.com