Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.
Sound Bites: Michele Angelini
An American tenor is one of opera’s new bel canto stars.
by F. Paul Driscoll.
Photograph by Dario Acosta
Grooming by Affan Graber Malik
Wardrobe courtesy of Jeffrey Rüdes
MICHELE ANGELINI, who is Argirio in this month’s premiere of Tancredi at Opera Philadelphia, has sung more than a dozen Rossini roles so far but says that the Syracusan senator will be “the first time I’ll be playing a father. I’ve sung a lot of young warriors, but Argirio is an old warrior. It will be interesting to complete that character journey—what does it mean to be a warrior who has lived through so much and who is now watching all the men and women around him in a power game that he really can’t control? It’s Emilio Sagi’s production, and this will be the fourth time I’ve done a staging of his. I love working with him, because he always dresses the singers well!”
Angelini spent most of 2016 singing Rossini: back-to-back Count Almavivas in Seville, Pittsburgh and Bilbao were followed by Giannetto in The Thieving Magpie at the Glimmerglass Festival in summer and his Met debut, as the fisherman Ruodi in Guillaume Tell, in October. “Before Tell, I had done some cover engagements at the Met, so I knew the music staff, and I knew the wonderful colleagues who were working on Guillaume Tell. My debut was not quite as daunting as it might have been, although what [Ruodi] has to sing is one tough little ditty. On paper, it looks as if it should be easy—but Rossini always challenges you to position yourself to take your art higher and above what you think is comfortable. The fisherman’s piece is basically a C-major triad that just hovers—but it’s a really tough nut to crack, vocally speaking.”
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Angelini first attracted major attention in 2005, with his poised, elegantly sung Almaviva in the inaugural season of Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance program. In the decade following that success, Angelini had engagements in Brussels, Bologna, Rome, Stockholm, Berlin and Covent Garden, as well as at Caramoor, Bard Summerscape, Florida Grand Opera and Fort Worth Opera. “I was very fortunate to have some success and a nice response to my work at the very beginning—but one or two contracts don’t make a career, you know? I decided then that when I didn’t have contracts I would devote my time to developing my instrument, working on my technique and learning my repertoire. Being a professional is about being ready for whatever comes next.”