Interview with Simone Alberghini – 20 years at ROF!
Simone Alberghini will be at ROF in a few weeks performing in “La Gazza Ladra” Earlier this season we spoke with him after a performance of Cenerentola at Washington National Opera! We’ve been so lucky to enjoy your performances in Pesaro at the Rossini Opera Festival.
During the run of Cenerentola you were interviewed by Raissa Massuda and she has kindly given us permission to use her interview on our RossiniAmerica website. Here is the link to her blog (http://mandolinvision.blogspot.com/2015/04/interview-simone-alberghini.html) So, our questions will be a mixture of follow-up and new!
Q. You mentioned in the previous interview that you find the character of Figaro and Dandini as being full of Rossini. Having recently seen your Dandini, it was easy to believe. Are there particular “lines” or episodes that involve those characters that stand out for people who perhaps aren’t familiar with Rossini?
A: As I said, I think that it’s the continuously breaking the 4th wall that these kind of characters are doing all the time, commenting on the situations; for example, Dandini: already in the cabaletta of the entry aria (“ma al finir della nostra commedia”) he is telling the audience: we are going to have a lot of fun later! And, it is duly happening in the second act, during the second part of the sextet: “I’ve told you, the comedy would become a “tragedy” in the second act!”
Q. The character of Assur in Semiramide is quite a contrast from Figaro and Dandini, but he, too, has beautiful music. How do you see Assur whose importance to the opera is not always recognized. As a follow-up, the opera has some pretty grand duets, particularly between Assur and Semiramide. How much of your interpretation depends on “your” Semiramide?
A:First of all, a joke: You know what is the first note that Assur is singing? A “C”, in italian “Do”; now, on the score you then read: Assur Do: Absurd in italian 🙂 Do you think that is casual or Rossini intended it? I believe the second one!
The role of Assur is one of my favorite, one of the most demanding vocally and with a quite different kind of agility required from, let say, Dandini. In Assur, most of the coloratura’s or agility are “di forza”, to complete this strong, badass (can I say it?) character. The most beautiful part is already the long aria scene, beautiful dramatic and with a lot of acting required.
The part has also 2 beautiful duets, one with Semiramide and one with Arsace; of course, as always, duets are already a “concertato” way of singing, with the need to melt the 2 voices often as one, as musical instruments; very beautiful music and, of course, changing every time depending from the colleagues, the director and the conductor.
Q. Speranza Scappuci, mentioned that the performances improve throughout a run. James Levine once said every performance is a rehearsal. But are there some nights when things just seem to come together – and does the audience have anything to do with that?
A: Usually the second performance is the worst one, because everybody release the tensions that we’ve got at opening night…and usually later performances are more interesting musically, because everybody, singers, conductor, orchestra, chorus, got to know each other so well that is able to even feed from each other different musical “inputs”, the little “variations” that we can do overtime on a stage.
Of course, especially while playing comedies, the reactions from the audience are very important, getting us the feeling that our jokes are working and even dictating us, sometimes, the timing for those jokes.
One of the last performance in DC was one of my favorites: during the recitativo before my duet with Magnifico, a little kid in the audience reacted at a joke with a very loud, fresh, joyful laugh: I’ve totally lost it, began to laugh on the stage, and the rest of the audience with me… it was very sweet and funny.
Q. The Font production of Cenerentola has an unusual ending in that it appears that this all has been a dream. You commented that if it was a dream, Cenerentola is also a thief because she still has the bracelets! Perhaps you are already thinking of your appearance in “La Gazza Ladra” in Pesaro this summer?
A: hahaha, maybe, yes! But I’ll not be playing the thief magpie:) I’m looking forward to the summer, of course, to be part once again of a Festival that I love deeply.
Q. This will be the 20th anniversary of your first Pesaro performance. Is there something special about the Rossini Opera Festival you would like to share with us? Any favorite performances there?
A:Well, I loved Pesaro and the Festival so much that I’ve moved to Pesaro 8 years ago from my hometown, Bologna!
I had the luck to perform already many times at the ROF, alongside singers like M. Devia, B. Ford, S. Ganassi, M. Pertusi, D. Takova, J.D. Flores and many others; directed by L. Ronconi, P. Pizzi, D. Michieletto, G. Vick… conducted by G. Gelmetti, D. Gatti, C. Rovaris, M. Mariotti… I’ve been very lucky and I do keep a lot of beautiful memories; If I had to chose the best role I’ve sang here, maybe I’d say Blancac in the very beautiful and funny La Scala di seta production by D. Michieletto.
Q. Understandably Dandini is a favorite of yours and he does have wonderful music. Is there a particular Rossini role you have not sung yet that you would like to perform?
A: Probably the title role in Guillame Tell.
Q. Some singers have commented that Rossini gets harder to sing with age. Perhaps this is a function of their voice type or other repertorie they are singing. Do you have any feeling about this?
A: Rossini is very “athletically” demanding for the voice and do need a lot of freshness; personally, I’m starting, after more then 20 years of career, to explore some Donizetti and Verdi role, but I’ll try to keep as long as possible Rossini and Mozart in the repertoire, because I do believe they’ll help to keep the voice healthy.
Q. Final question – you mentioned the “Rossini” pizza which is only served in Pesaro.. is there a favorite place they serve it – or is it a secret?
A: Well, there are many good restaurant in Pesaro and will be wrong of me to choose just one; let say, Donn’Amalia, Farina and Dal Geme.
Thank you for your time. See you in Pesaro!!