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An unforgettable year at La Scala

After Tosca on 7th December 2019, which was truly well-received, and Il Trovatore in February 2020, which I will never forget because performances were interrupted by the first terrible lockdown, I was able to relive the emotion of singing again in a concert at La Scala this summer. After that, in September I sang in an unforgettable Verdi Requiem in the cathedrals of Milan, Brescia and Bergamo, again with the orchestra and chorus of La Scala conducted by Riccardo Chailly. Finally, singing in the role of Radamès last October, I was forced to drop out before the penultimate performance because I tested positive for covid-19. La Scala always means so much to me, from a personal and an artistic point of view. In few theatres are emotions able to multiply and leave their mark as they do here. So, to experience such a new production as “To see again the stars” was amazing. None of us were prepared for anything like it: singing an aria which was simultaneously exploited by director Davide Livermore to create an evocative performance; it was true story-telling in which the opera extracts conducted by Maestro Riccardo Chailly served to transport the audience into the enchanted world of musical theatre with its eternal truths.

The production was broadcast on the evening of Saint Ambrose 2020, 7th December, by Rai1 and Radio3 Rai, streamed on RaiPlay and recordings were shown on scores of television channels worldwide. Well, it certainly was a special opening night, which I undertook alongside more than twenty infinitely talented artists. None of us will ever forget it.

Back on stage with Verdi

Dear friends, where did we leave off? I was taking part at La Scala in Aida, an unforgettable experience because at some point I became Covid-19 positive and with me the rest of my family. I wasn’t able to give the final performance, scheduled for 19th October, and I went through some truly terrible moments. Luckily I was asymptomatic and everything turned out well. From this evening I’m back to life as normal, which for me means singing at the theatre. I’m at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo for a concert performance of I Due Foscari. I’m singing as Jacopo Foscari with an exceptional cast featuring Plácido Domingo and Anna Pirozzi. I’ve already sung with Plácido in this lovely yet little performed opera by Verdi at the Los Angeles Opera, the Royal Opera House and at Teatro alla Scala.

Radamès at Teatro alla Scala

I can’t wait to sing as Radamès at La Scala, first of all because I’m back singing in a concert performance of a full opera at this theatre which is so important to me. I am proud to be part of such a wonderful cast for this edition conducted by Maestro Chailly, offering the opportunity to hear the world premiere of a version of the third act discovered a few months ago, which casts new light on the genesis of this opera: a hundred or so bars for around eight minutes of music which give us new insights into the depth of Verdi’s thinking.

So, long live Verdi, always! And long live all those who are working incessantly to show that theatre is alive and well, safe and indispensable.

We will be on stage on 6th/9th/12th/15th and 19th October.

Verdi Requiem for pandemic victims

Between 30th August and 9th September I was involved in five performances of the Verdi Requiem. It was an honour to sing in this work on 30th and 31st August at the Teatro del Maggio, with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino conducted by Zubin Mehta. It was also significant for me to be back singing under Maestro Mehta, with whom I sang several years ago in a splendid Mozart Requiem. The two solemn concerts were dedicated to the victims of the pandemic in Tuscany and to all healthcare workers in the Region of Tuscany. With me were Krassimira Stoyanova, Elina Garanča and Michele Pertusi.

Immediately afterwards I immersed myself once again in the dramatic depths and infinite tenderness of Verdi’s masterpiece, singing with the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala conducted by Riccardo Chailly: on 4th September in the Duomo of Milan, on 7th September in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo and on 9th September in the Duomo of Brescia, alongside Krassimira Stoyanova, Elina Garanča and René Pape.

President Mattarella attended the concert in the Duomo of Milan and, although there were only a few hundred people in church, we had a nationwide and worldwide audience because the concert was broadcast live on television in Italy on Rai 5 and RaiPlay, live on radio Radio 3 and the Euroradio Circuit and on giant screens in the churches of the Lombardy towns and cities which were most badly hit by the first wave of the pandemic. This Requiem was also later broadcast on the Arte and the Live Viewing Japan platforms.

No words are sufficient to explain why this was the most moving tour I have experienced as an artist and as an Italian.

SERENA AND I IN CONCERT FOR GENOVA

Serena and I are honoured to sing in this concert with which Teatro Carlo Felice is paying tribute to rebirth just a few days before the inauguration of Genoa’s new San Giorgio Bridge.
With the Teatro Carlo Felice Orchestra, Chorus and Children’s Chorus conducted by Maestro Fabio Luisi we are singing the most representative pieces from Simon Boccanegra, the opera about the sea, Genoa’s opera. We are also performing together in the prayer “Dal tuo stellato soglio” from Mosè in Egitto by Rossini and I will be singing the “Quoniam” for tenor and orchestra from the Missa Solemnis for solo voices, choir and orchestra by Mercadante (first modern day performance).
Our thoughts and sympathy as artists, citizens, children and at the same time parents go to the families of the victims. Our prayer in song is for them and for Genoa.
The concert will begin with the first ever performance of Ennio Morricone’s last work “Tante pietre a ricordare”.
Live on Liguria’s tv channel #Primocanale, from 8.30 p.m.

Un Ballo in Maschera at the Maggio

Un Ballo in Maschera is one of my favourite operas and Riccardo is one of my signature roles, so it is important to me that this was the first full opera I sang after the lockdown. A concert performance of the opera was given in the Cavea at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. I fell in love with this open-air space with its classic yet contemporary beauty. I was also happy to meet up with two great colleagues who are also my friends: Krassimira Stoyanova and Carlo Álvarez (marvellous Amelia and Renato).

A CONCERT TO START OVER AT THE SCALA DI MILANO

For me, due to the deep bond I have with the Teatro alla Scala, the concert I held there on July 8th was particularly significant. Accompanied by the pianist Giulio Zappa, I performed with soprano Federica Lombardi and violinist Patricia Kopatchinkskaja in the second concert of “Quattro concerti per ricominciare”. I am proud to have participated in such a special evening for La Scala and Milan, with a program of Verdi arias not yet sung at La Scala (as well as an intruder I love very much, the aria by Loris da Fedora) and the duet “Già nella notte densa” from Otello.

The concert was broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube at the Teatro alla Scala and on the Corriere della Sera website.

I find that, after waiting so long for live music, the international (and immense) audience of streaming is a wonderful gift to both us and the audience.

MY FIRST TIME SINGING AS A DUO WITH THE BARITONE LUCA SALSI

Luca Salsi and I are singing for the first time together: on July 4th we inaugurate the festival “E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle” in the open space of Palazzo Farnese in Piacenza; on July 23rd we are at the Fenice di Venezia; on July 28th we will be for the first at the Castello Aragonese in Taranto for the Festival della Valle d’Itria. We will sing Verdi arias and duets, from the operas Don Carlo, La forza del Destino and Otello. We are accompanied by the pianist Davide Cavalli who will also perform pieces from Scriabin and Liszt.

 

We are happy as artists and as Italians, fully aware of the symbolic meaning that these concerts will have for the city of Piacenza which has suffered greatly because of the covid 19 epidemic, and for the city of Venice which has remained isolated and devoid of its tourism, vital to its survival.

MY BIRTHDAY: FORTY YEARS OLD (IN LOCKDOWN)

Today is my 40th birthday and for the first time in years I’m spending it here in Genoa with Serena and our children. The time hasn’t yet come for me to take stock of my life; it’s still time for fulfilling my plans and dreams: I have many things in mind for my professional and personal life. Like all artists I’m waiting for the certainty that those small signs of things getting back to normal apply to us too.
But today I’m having a day to myself and I’d like to thank those of you who have wished me a happy birthday or will do so later. I’d like to ask all of you, if you can and if you want, to make a donation to Make-a-Wish Italia. Together with this organisation I’ve set out on an engaging journey, using my image and my free time to help make dreams come true for children and young people suffering from serious illnesses, to bring them joy, courage and hope.
Your donation to Make-a-Wish Italia would be a wonderful present for me. Thank you.

VOICES FROM GENOA CATHEDRAL

Dear friends,

what else could I do but sing for you at this time? Easter is coming and I have accepted the invitation by the local government of my region,  Liguria, to send up the most sublime of prayers, the music left to us by our great Verdi, Rossini, Puccini and the many other composers who approached the sacred through music.

On Sunday April 12th at 12,30 I will be singing in this special concert live from the Cathedral in Genoa:

“Resurrezione. Voci dalla Cattedrale di Genova”.

We have involved other born or adopted Ligurian artists like Matteo Lippi, Iván Ayón Rivas, Serena Gamberoni, Elena Belfiore and pianist Maria Letizia Poltini.

With the permission of cardinal Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco and the Chapter of Canon we will be holding this concert behind closed doors in the Cathedral of Saint Laurence in full respect of the regulations concerning social distancing. The music will be interspersed with Gospel  readings and will reach you thanks to a diocese recording and live broadcasting by Liguria’s tv channels, the Region of Liguria’s social media channels and streaming by Teatro Carlo Felice.

I am moved, none of my recent theatre engagements can equal the profound significance of this performance.

Ph. Victor Santiago