"Roberto Alagna was born to Sicilian parents in the suburbs of Paris. He seasoned his vocal technique by listening to the great tenors of the past and following the advice of an old Cuban master, Rafael Ruiz. For years, he sang in the evenings in cabarets accompanying himself on the guitar. But his secret garden is opera. In 1988, at the age of 25, he won the Pavarotti competition. Alagna's voice is luminous, radiant. The biggest international stages, from New York to Vienna and London, immediately opened their doors to him; He is acclaimed everywhere. His voice expanded, he added to his repertoire the masters of Italian opera. He enthusiastically continued his exploration of French roles, and revived forgotten operas. This curiosity seduced contemporary composers who composed for him. Few opera artists have blazed new trails in this way.
Roberto Alagna's discography reflects the extent of his musical curiosity. The DVD also occupies a major place. He is even interested in filmmaking techniques. The director Benoît Jacquot asked him to play Mario in the film version of Tosca, which gives pride of place to the acting of singer-actors.
Adopted by a wide audience, without over denying his requirements as a singer of the great operatic repertoire, Roberto Alagna appears on television sets where he gives the answer to singers of variety, participates in charity concerts or exceptional events. Alagna tackles major roles with incredible freshness, in the world's greatest theatres, at a pace that no one else could keep. To this are regularly added the risk-taking and the amazing initiatives where the tenor commits himself to everyone's surprise, on a crush or by instinct. To artists who seek the secret of the elixir of youth, Alagna could undoubtedly answer: generosity, love of the public... and an inexhaustible enthusiasm." Portrait by Sylvain Fort (Excerpts)
Caruso 1873Artists Roberto Alagna
Release Date: 11/08/2019
Sony Classical announces ROBERTO ALAGNA’s latest album, CARUSO 1873, to be released on Friday, November 8. Caruso 1873 is Alagna’s tribute to the Neapolitan singer he considers the greatest tenor of all time.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt an almost visceral love and admiration for Enrico Caruso,” writes Alagna. He honours his legendary predecessor with a selection of repertoire drawn from Caruso’s own recording career, which stretched from 1902 to 1920. Alagna’s aim was to celebrate Caruso, while retaining his own vocal identity: “I respected the Caruso ‘style’ when making this recording, just as one would respect a composer’s style.”
Accompanied by the ORCHESTRE NATIONAL D’ÎLE-DE-FRANCE and joined for two numbers by soprano ALEKSANDRA KURZAK and for one by bass RAFAŁ SIWEK, Roberto Alagna worked with his longstanding accomplice, conductor, pianist and arranger YVAN CASSAR. Together, they committed to find a way into Caruso’s world, as accurately as possible. They recorded not only in the original languages and keys that Caruso used in his recordings but also tried to match his tempos, his variations, his breaths… They even did everything to recreate the original orchestrations, for instance by including heavier brass, in order to reproduce the atmosphere of the early recordings.
The music chosen is a journey back in time through Caruso’s eclectic repertoire. It showcases his personality, blended with Alagna’s own favorites, “so the programme reflects me too,” Alagna explains. The album opens with Lucio Dalla’s “Caruso” – a modern song– then turns the clock back to finish with the earliest records. The selection offers many surprises and stretches from Handel and Pergolesi to verismo composers including Cilea and Leoncavallo, contemporaries of Caruso who wrote music for him. Puccini is represented by “Vecchia zimarra”, the bass Colline’s aria from La bohème which – as legend has it – Caruso once sang on stage standing in for an ailing colleague in perfect subterfuge.
“Caruso is part of my life, part of my roots even,” writes Alagna. “My great-grandparents knew him in New York. I feel as if I’d known him”. This recording has brought the two tenors closer still: “I was so immersed in the sound of Caruso that I started hearing his voice instead of mine inside my head during the sessions.”
Enrico Caruso was born in 1873. Almost a century later, in 1963, it was Roberto Alagna’s turn to come into the world. “His voice has been with me ever since,” Alagna adds. “The singers of the past have left us their legacy. I hope this recording will help younger generations to discover or rediscover Caruso’s unique artistry. That way his flame will burn forever.”