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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH:

FRANCESCO DEMURO

By the age of ten, Demuro made his first stage appearance, and by the age of twelve, he had joined the Minicantadores (a group of young singers of traditional Sardinian songs). He later studied in Cagliari under Elisabetta Scanu, and made his opera debut in the role of Rodolfo in Verdi's "Luisa Miller" at the Teatro Regio in Parma in October 2007. In 2008 he appeared as the Duke of Mantua in "Rigoletto" at the "Verdi Festival" in Parma and in 2009 he made his debut as Nemorino in "L'elisir d'amore" in Teatro Filarmonico di Verona and also appeared in the opera at La Scala in Milan the following year. His US debut took place as Alfredo in Verdi's La traviata with Seattle Opera in the McCaw Hall opera house.[1] In December 2009 " Lucia di Lammermoor" in Sassari.

His debut at the Royal Opera House in "Gianni Schicchi" conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano was a huge success. Over the 2012/2013 period, he appeared in a variety of new roles, including "Don Pasquale", "Macbeth" and "Falstaff". He currently appears as Fenton in San Francisco's "Falstaff"

What can you tell me about the production of "Falstaff" in San Francisco? 

- This is very much a high-level production, with a wonderful and close-knit cast, not to mention the great conduction of M° Nicola Luisotti. The staging is classic and abides perfectly by the score. The director Olivier Tambosi is a beautiful discovery to me. He knows the piece very well, and he always has a special care for the singers. I strongly believe it has all the requirements for a perfect outcome.

Tell me about working with Maestro Luisotti?

- Working with M° Luisotti is always stimulating, as well as a big privilege. Being in a production with him is not just about carrying out musical rehearsals and getting prepared for the performance. It's also about evolving, getting enriched and growing up. He's an extraordinary musician and he has a deep knowledge of voices. He knows the singers' potentiality perfectly, and he always manages to find a way to let you express it. To me it's always a big challenge, because he's never satisfied until he succeeds in taking the best out of you. I always learn a lot from him, and I feel I owe him a lot personally.

What makes someone a great conductor - and what makes someone NOT so? How does either influence how confident you feel on the stage?

- Besides the talent, surely the personality, the intelligence and the pleasure with which he can interact and confront himself both with the orchestra and the singers. I don't like and I don't appreciate selfishness and attention-seeking attitude. Music is a team game, you can't do it alone...

- Personally, I've been lucky enough to work with great conductors, with whom I could be myself, feel sure and at ease.

What are your thoughts on Bryn Terfel as Falstaff?

- I think he's a stage animal, a genius, and very well trained in everything he does. A great talent and a very nice person. This is obviously a perfect role for him. We've already worked together in Falstaff at la Scala in Milan this year, on the occasion of Verdi's anniversary, for a few performances and it was a huge success.

What are your challenges - vocally and otherwise - as Fenton?

- Fenton is supposed to be a simple and short role, but it's actually tough and difficult. It requires a high level of singing because you'll find all the difficulties you can imagine here. The Orchestra is always very light, so the singing must always be clear and elegant as well as rich both in color and dynamic.

Can you tell me a bit about your background and your first steps towards opera?

- Since I was a child I've been singing popular songs from my home land, Sardinia. With time, I started to study lyrical singing, first at the conservatory, and then as a private student. My first steps into the world of singing took place on my island, in my hometown, Sassari. That's where I could try some opera and that's where I was "discovered" by my current Manager, Mr. Gianluca Macheda. Then I made my official debut at Teatro Regio in Parma as Rodolfo in "Luisa Miller".

How/when did you realise you had a voice?

- Basically, since I was a child, I've been listening to classical music and I've always had the inclination to sing it. Little by little, as my voice became mature and stronger, I began to feel the need to express myself differently. At the beginning I used to audition in every theatre, and soon after that the contracts arrived. That's when I became aware of the fact that I could reach many targets by continuing my studies and by working hard.

What do you find are the main differences between singing Verdi, Puccini and Donizetti?

- It depends. Each composer is unique and inimitable compared to the others. As a consequence, the singing as well changes according to their peculiarities, differences and musical sensibilities. I love these composers, who are pure geniuses of my country. They are the base of my current repertoire. With Verdi and Donizetti you keep a bel canto singing, and I really feel them in my voice. With Puccini the singing is more free and you're more inclined to let yourself be driven by his melodies, which is a thing you must be careful about because the orchestration is more voluminous and leads you to give more.

What do you consider good singing technique? Can you describe your singing technique?

- Pavarotti and Kraus's technique, I would say. If you think until what age they sang and in which way, you can surely claim that their technique was perfect!

- My voice and my technique are constantly evolving. I study every day and I'm never satisfied. I'm always in search of the right preparation and the right sound by listening to the great voices of the past, but trying to keep faithful to my vocality and to my natural inclinations and sensibility. I think I have, or so I've been told, a recognizable and particular timbre. As for the rest, the time and the experience will do.

How do you maintain your instrument on a daily basis? Do you have any "rules" on the day of a performance?

- Every day for half an hour I warm up and keep my vocal chords in tune by vocalising. I do the same on performance days too. Then there is a time when I study, and a time when I prepare the operas, and in these cases I need more time. Once in a while, for my personal pleasure and for training a little bit, I sing some songs from my island. It's a good exercise, as I've done it for many years and this has kept my vocal chords stable and healthy. And singing about my home land is also good for my heart! I also try to keep my throat hydrated, live a healthy life without vices and I take care of my body, which is the support of my voice, by doing physical exercises.

What would you consider your first big break-through? Where and when was it?

- The biggest success of my life was with no doubt when I married my wife Vittoria. It's only through this that the professional successes followed. There were many important break-throughs, and they gave me big satifaction and gratification. I could mention my debut at la Scala with "Rigoletto", my debut in the US with "La Traviata" at Seattle Opera - and not to forget "Così fan tutte" here in San Francisco last year. But I always ask more to myself, I always say to myself that the biggest success is yet to come because it helps to have an urge not to be satisfied and to always want to do better.

How do you learn new roles? What's your process from you open the score for the first time until you're ready for rehearsals?

- If I don't know the opera I'm going to prepare, the first step is listening. I gather all the best recordings and I start getting an idea about it. Soon after that, I start the real preparation by studying together with a coach/pianist. After studying and memorizing the music, I work like a painter with his colors and I add my soul and my feelings, and I define it with my personality.

Being a young singer with considerable talent, it's common to be offered roles that you're vocally not ready for. Who helps you make the decision to accept or turn down a role?

- My good sense and my conscience helps me. Each offer that I receive is evaluated by me and my manager. We confront each other and make a decision. I think you don't have to rush. You need to leave everything to mature, and everything has its time. You can simply say no.


- It happens sometimes that I am offered roles I'm still unprepared for. I mean, for my vocality. I prefer to maintain the roles of my beautiful lyrical repertoire, and I hope I can go on like this. I've recently made a beautiful discovery of the French repertoire with Gounod's "Roméo et Juliette" that I debuted in the summer at Arena di Verona. It went very well, and it was very satisfying!


- I would like to enrich the French repertoire, for example with Massenet's "Werther" and "Manon", but also Gounod's "Faust" and "Les contes d'Hoffmann", which is actually already in my future plans. 

Catch Francesco Demuro in Falsaff at San Francisco Opera from 8th of October until 2nd of November 2013