World Famous Bass-Baritone Pisaroni will celebrate Istanbul's New Year



We held a mini interview with Luca Pisaroni before his concert with Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra that will take place on 7 January 2016 (this Thursday) at Lütfi Kırdar Concert Hall. With soprano Chen Reiss and conductor Sascha Goetzel they will present a delicious New Year programme ranging from Mozart to Broadway classics.
Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni has established himself as one of the most charismatic and versatile singers performing today. Since his debut at age 26 with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival, led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Pisaroni has continued to appear at the world’s leading opera houses, concert halls, and festivals.
Interview by Sanat Deliorman
Let’s start with the New Year's concert you will give in Istanbul with Borusan Philharmonic. Would you like to comment about Thursday night’s programme?
The programme we decided to do is something entertaining. At the end of the day, this is a New Year’s concert. So there are pretty much from the repertoire I’ve been singing at the moment. From Mozart’s “Papageno-Papagena” to Rossini’s II. Mehmed, which I’m doing in April in Toronto. Then I’m adding in the second half, Porter’s Night and Day and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “This nearly was mine”, which are kind of American classical Broadway songs. And we have some German pieces like “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz”, which is the duet from the composer of Merry Widow. These pieces have connection with Vienna where I live. Sascha and I, we both have connection to Vienna so it’s really nice that we will perform these pieces.
Have you ever worked with Sascha Goetzel before?
Yes, we did the Le Nozze di Figaro together in Vienna and I liked him immediately. He has such a nice energy. He is full of passion and is very precise about what he wants. Especially when it comes to Mozart he has lots of ideas, which I like a lot. Because I’d like to try something new every time I do Le Nozze di Figaro. What’s more, this will be our first time when we’ll do these Broadway pieces. It’s going to be fun. And when we need fun, I prefer these musics somehow to the Italian repertoire.
Was it Sascha Goetzel who invited you to Istanbul?
Yes, I’ve been to Istanbul only once, I think it was 1999, I came as a tourist. La Scala Philharmonic and Riccardo Muti would do some concert, so I came and stayed in Istanbul for a couple of days and I loved the city so much. It was so full of history. There is this connection of East and West which made my sightseeing experience even more exciting.
But you also grew up in a city full of history, Bussetto, Giuseppe Verdi’s hometown…
Actually I was born in Venezuela. My parents stayed in South America for 10 years due to their work. I lived in Venezuela until I was 4 years old. But my parents were actually from Bussetto, so we moved to Bussetto and I grew up there.

"Someone at age 28 cannot understand Verdi"

And it was in this city you started listening to opera and grew an affection to Verdi’s music. And also you mention about your love for Pavarotti in one of your interviews. Which LP’s did you listen to then?
Actually it wasn’t an LP. It was one of these tape reordings. As far as I remember, the first recording I got was, the Best arias and song. But I think I destroyed it, because I listened to it so many times that at a certain point it died (he laughs).
You once said that singing Verdi before you get ready for it can destroy your voice. Are you still waiting for the right time to start singing Verdi? Do you think waiting that long may have negative effects on your career?
Honestly, I never thought in these terms. I think that Verdi is so complex. His writing is so focused on the character. Therefore, it requires not only a mature voice but also a mature personality. I don’t think that somebody at age 28 can undertand completely what it means to be Filippo II in Don Carlos. Because someone at that age cannot have lived enough to understand such a complex character. Filippo II is torn between State and religion, meanwhile suffers from love.
So, in my opinion, you cannot start with Verdi but you can arrive to Verdi. I have such a huge respect to him and when I was 28 and even 30, I noticed that I don’t have the tools yet to start. Right now still I don’t have him in my repertoire. Instead I have Mozart and other Baroque works; I’ll be singing more Rossini and more bel canto in the future but not Verdi yet. I have so much repertoire before that. I’ll wait for the right moment. But I’m not judging anybody who decides to do Verdi earlier than me. This is my perspective.
Let’s assume that finally you felt ready for Verdi. Which work would you choose to start?
It’s a really tough question. Maybe I could think of something like Attila or Macbeth. The only role I recorded from Verdi up to now was Simon Boccanegra’s Paolo, the goldsmith.
What do you think about the relation between bel canto singing and your bass-baritone voice?
As a bass-baritone, in Mozart, you never get to sing long phrases, or long lines, but when you sing La Sonnambula or I Purtitani, it’s really the opposite. It’s incredibly legato, everything lies in a different tessitura (vocal range). I feel I enjoy bel canto very much. And it’s very natural to me. I hope the audience enjoy listening to me as much as I enjoy singing it.

Luca Pisaroni and his father-in-law Thomas Hampson. Photo credit: Dario Acosta

Will your collaboration with your father-in-law Thomas Hampson give any fruits in near future?
Yes, we have some new projects on the way. We enjoy doing this very much, because the repertoire we do is fun. We don’t just sing but also act and create a little scene each time, which the audience enjoys.
Which repertoire excites you the most nowadays?
In this career you never stay still, you can do an opera and can get engaged in something totally different. At the moment I’m recording a CD, so I’m working on Italian songs by Schubert, Rossini, Liszt and Tosti. It will be an interesting programme, because it shows how Italians and non-Italians used the language to make songs and their different takes on them. Schubert almost doesn’t sound like Schubert. In Liszt you will hear a very complex dialogue between the voice and the piano. They are like small scenes. This selection will show different moods and styles, which is very interesting for me.

"To be the bad guy on stage is much more fun"

When you think of all the roles you have sung so far, which one would you associate yourself with the most?
I think I would probably be Figaro, because I like him as a human being. He is an incredibly decent and nice guy. He worked for everything he attained, and he has such a beautiful relationship with Suzanna on stage. He makes you so happy. I feel him the closest to me.
But if I have to choose a character I always enjoy playing the bad guy! Because it pushes you to do things you wouldn’t do as a normal person. Those characters give you different angles to look at. Even in the worst personality there is white and other colours in that darkness. That’s why, to create a believable bad guy is not easy. I like this challenge.
How about the little good guys? Why are you always taking your dogs with you?
Because I love them. They are definetely like children and they make me feel at home everywhere I go.
Isn’t it hard for them to travel?
To the contrary. The moment I pick my suitcase they get all excited. Especially the small one! He always sleeps close to the suitcase to make sure that we don’t forget to take himif we go.
Will they come to Istanbul with you?
Yes, I’ve been working on it. We need to make it happen.

Taken by Catherine Pisaroni
Cover Photo: Marco Borggreve



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