EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH:
Giuseppe Filianoti graduated in 1997 and then won a two-year scholarship to the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala in Milan. This was where he met the late Alfredo Kraus, who also became his mentor. A man he describes as “the perfect model of the tenor I would like to be; Elegant in his acting and singing, a solid technique, sublime musicality, prudent, made smart role choices and had a long and healthy career.”
Filianoti went on to making his professional début in 1998 in the title role of “Dom Sébastien” by Donizetti, quickly followed by an engagement by Riccardo Muti to perform at La Scala the following year. He made his debut as Alfredo in “La Traviata” at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in 2000, and has been a frequent guest at both La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera, New York (since 2005) as well as many other houses across the world.
- My journey in opera began 20 years ago when I began to study singing. Since then, my journey has led me to tread the boards of the deepest parts of my soul transported by love and passion for music. The happiness that this work can produce is great, but perhaps even greater are the sacrifices that you have to make for it, Giuseppe Filianoti begins.
- I live with the knowledge that what I do is something intangible and at the same time indescribable. Opera is like the sound that the singer makes; as soon as it appears, it vanishes into the air. So the pleasure of singing brings with it the longing for the next time when you will be able express yourself in song.
“LA BOHÈME” & “DON GIOVANNI”
Filianoti is currently starring in “La Bohème” (March/April) at Staatsoper in Hamburg, followed by “Don Giovanni” (June/July) at Staatsoper in Berlin. Mozart is early classical music and Puccini is more towards verismo. I’m curious how he finds tackling these two styles relatively close together.
Does he approach them differently, vocally and acting-wise?
- Mozart singing style is certainly more restrained and instrumental with respect to the requirements of Puccini. The different styles come rather automatically to me, as I try to be faithful to everything that the composer writes. So it is difficult to mix up Puccini with Mozart. Vocally, Mozart is much more exigent in the need for an elegant vocal quality, pure and clean, using the voice as if it were a violin. Puccini needs a passionate approach, with a generous vocalism and a more externalized expression.
- The acting is always linked with the choices of the stage director who can adopt a modern stage even in Mozart, so in this sense, my approach is the same whether in Mozart or Puccini.
What are your memories of the first "La Bohème" and "Don Giovanni" you did?
- I sang “La Bohème” for the first time last season in Brussels in a modern production, and it happened to also be in the Christmas season. They adopted this in the opera too. It was very fascinating and inspiring for me to walk through the real snow on the streets of Brussels as a preparation for the simulated theatrical snow. My first “Don Giovanni” was in Toulouse, which was also in a very strange, modern production.
Filianoti is returning to the Metropolitan Opera at the end of the year for "La Clemenza di Tito", alongside Elīna Garanča. As always, I’m curious to know what he took away from his debut there (in 2005), and what returning again and again has been like.
- My debut at the Met was with “Lucia di Lammermoor”, which was also my debut in the United States. So for me, a European singer, it was the confirmation that everything that I had done up to that point had been right. It was really exciting to contemplate the possibility of having my own voice be heard in the greatest theater in the world.
- I have so many happy memories of that theatre, and I enjoy going back. For me, it’s like going home every time. The people who work at the Met are fantastic and the New York public gives great support and satisfaction to the singers. Each time I go back to the Met, I feel like I’m adding an important piece to my career.
VOICE MAINTENANCE & LEARNING
- The first thing you must realize is that in order to have a healthy voice, you have to have a healthy body that’s active and athletic, he states.
- The voice needs to be continually exercised and you must constantly study to find ways to free your voice in the simplest ways. As ours is an instrument in continual evolution and change, the training has to be continual and constant. You are constantly evaluating your repertoire and how it might need to grow and change.
Speaking of which, how do you learn new repertoire and how long does it take you?
- Fortunately, I learn new music very easily. Seated alone with the score in front of a piano, I begin by first playing the melody. Afterward, I listen to all the available recordings from the past to know how different artists have approached the score. Finally, when I am secure with the melodies, I begin to sing the piece with good pianists who help me by playing the accompaniment while I sing the piece. The process usually takes about 2 weeks, depending on the difficulty of the piece.
- I feel very happy that in the near future I am going to get to sing one of my dream roles, Pelléas in “Pelléas et Mélisande”, as well as Gabriele Adorno in “Simon Boccanegra” and Jacopo in “I due foscari”. The music in all three is exceptionally beautiful!
Finally, how can we make opera more accessible to the general masses?
- I think the only way is to include the study of classical music in school, just as you would study art, history, mathematics, philosophy and all the facets of a complete education.