Looks Ahead to Chicago Lyric Opera Debut as Argante in Handel's Rinaldo
Luca Pisaroni is coming off rave reviews for his performances as Leporello in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Don Giovanni ("charismatic and compulsively watchable," according to the New York Observer). Next, the Italian bass-baritone will take another featured turn on the Met stage as Caliban, alongside Plácido Domingo and Joyce DiDonato, in The Enchanted Island – the company's freshly conceived Shakespearean tableau of music by Handel, Vivaldi, and Rameau, conducted by renowned Baroque authority William Christie (Dec 31-Jan 30). In the new year, Pisaroni makes his Chicago Lyric Opera debut, reprising his acclaimed portrayal of Argante for a new production of Handel's Rinaldo (Feb 29-March 24).
The Enchanted Island is the Met's version of the Baroque tradition of pasticcio – a light pastiche of operatic snippets woven into a dazzling tableau, this time with the lovers from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream stranded on his otherworldly island of The Tempest. Along with Pisaroni as Caliban, the cast features Domingo as Neptune and DiDonato as Sycorax, as well as Danielle de Niese as Ariel and David Daniels as Prospero. The new production's director and librettist is Jeremy Sams, with design by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (who created the Met's staging of Philip Glass's Satyagraha). To Pisaroni, portraying Caliban is a unique theatrical opportunity: "Portraying the ‘bad guy’ is always satisfying, and Caliban is a monster, so I will have to push my acting skills to the limit," he says. "And even if the music is from the Baroque period, I'm excited to get the opportunity to sing in a ‘world premiere’."
When Pisaroni played another "bad guy" at Glyndebourne this summer – Argante in Rinaldo, his debut in the role – the U.K.'s Telegraph declared that the singer was "at the top of his game" as the treacherous Saracen king. Pisaroni says, "I am thrilled to make my Chicago Lyric Opera debut as Argante – it is one of the most vocally challenging bass-baritone roles in the entire Baroque repertoire. The famous entrance aria ‘Sibilar gli angui’ contains an incredible – almost disturbing – number of high notes. And the second aria, ‘Vieni, o cara’ – which happens almost immediately after the first – forces the singer to show both sides of Argante’s personality: a warrior and king in one moment, a passionate and almost insecure lover in the next."