Since Luciano Pavarotti died, Opera Chic has been receiving a fair amount of email asking basically the same question: why is it that Pavarotti was the last of the great Italian tenors, and now Italian opera is all about Peruvian, or Mexican, or Argentinian tenors? Why is it, they ask, that the Italians are getting pwnZrd at their own game? Whare r the great Italian tenors, they ask?
OC's verdict is, ahem, no qway Kosay. Because maybe it is true that, as Juan Diego Florez usually says, there must be something in the Peruvian tap water that works some strange magic for tenors -- and that magic water does seem to have gotten scarce in Italy's aqueducts.
But dissing the Italian singers doesn't really cut it -- because even if it is true that, for example, recently, Italy's biggest hope circa 2000-2003 -- Salvatore Licitra -- has turned out to be not as awesome as we all thought/hoped he'd become, and we all know about Roberto Alagna's troubles in recent years -- RA comes from a family of Italian immigrants to France, and he's more Franco-Italian, technically, and his best repertoire is French opera, even if his youthful Alfredo at la Scala under Muti is still a joy to listen to -- but despite Licitra's and Alagna's problems Opera Chic thinks that hope is on the way.
Because not only there are excellent singers who are becoming better known -- such as Giuseppe Filianoti, 32, who has a brilliant future ahead if he carries himself better than other less professional contemporaries -- and, we have to say, we're impressed by Vittorio Grigolo, whose talent is definitely there but who risks to follow the dangerous sirens of crossover big buck$ toward the abyss of crapstatic artistic achievement. If Filianoti keeps studying and takes good care of his voice, and if Grigolo tones down the Orlando Bloom-ish photo shoots and the "popera" stuff -- how barfogenic are his side projects, fo' reals -- the glory is just there, gleaming in the distance.
And Filianoti studied with Carlo Bergonzi, Grigolo with Pavarotti: they certainly had the best teachers, it's up to them now -- the future can be theirs.
But history is now, and Italy already has a tenor with a gigantisaurous voice, a beautiful timbre, impeccable professional credentials and intense acting skillz.
You may not hear his name a lot because by all accounts -- OC has never had the pleasure to meet him -- he is a shy, private man who'd rather spend his work hours rehearsing and studying, and his free time with family (and we hear that -- he's a native Genoan -- he cooks a mean linguine al pesto); averse to the pimptastic media system that often builds hype where there is very little voice to support such hype, he nevertheless sings the Italian repertorio with talent, passion, and class in many of the most important opera houses around the world (Vienna Staatsoper, Scala, Liceu, Met, Covent Garden, San Carlo di Napoli, Regio di Parma).
But then, he can afford to avoid the pitfalls of the hype machine.
Because Fabio Armiliato, heir to the greatest lineage of Italian opera tenors, has this voice *
* and we ride in a LOLs Royce every time we see this video's ending, because Gergiev as always loses his peWp and goes full blasts drowning poor Armiliato, Val just can't avoid it, the baton is like a sledgehammer for him sometimes, but the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus's audience drowns Gergiev back, with a thunder of applause, all for Fabio.