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Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.

Sound Bites: Hubert Zapiór

A prize-winning Polish baritone joins the Staatsoper Hannover ensemble this season.
By F. Paul Driscoll

Sound Bites Hubert Zapior hdl 819
Juilliard alumnus Hubert Zapiór, set to join Staatsoper Hannover
Photographed by Dario Acosta
Grooming by Affan Graber Malik
Sound Bites Zapior sm 819
Photographed by Dario Acosta

HUBERT ZAPIÓR capped his artist-diploma studies at Juilliard in April with a suave, confident performance of Don Giovanni, meeting his doom in Act II with a bracing interpolated high A. “I am aware that I would not sing this role now unless it was in school,” says Zapiór. “[Stage director] Emma Griffin told us, ‘Don’t try to play older than you are. Just bring your experience to the character.’ That was fun, because everyone has some experience. So I believed that I could play Giovanni in my own way and be true to his character. Of course it is difficult to have a few thousand ladies by my age! I hope the next time I sing Giovanni will be in five or ten years. For now, I am going in a totally different direction.” 

Zapiór, who was born in Brzesko, near Krakow, studied in Warsaw before coming to New York. His elegantly lyrical singing has won him prizes in several prestigious North American vocal competitions, including the Giulio Gari, the Gerda Lissner and the Loren L. Zachary. Just twenty-six, the baritone sang Maximilian in Candide in Krakow this past spring and made his Bayerische Staatsoper debut in June, as the Marquis d’Obigny to Ailyn Pérez’s Violetta. This season, he joins the ensemble at Staatsoper Hannover, where his roles will include Papageno, Marullo and Rossini’s Figaro. “In the near future, I will have two different productions as Figaro in Barbiere, which is so exciting, because I have wanted to sing this opera for five years, but it was too early. This past summer, the top of my voice opened up, for whatever reason—the change is not really about my skill in singing but learning to respect how my instrument evolves. Every year, I was approaching Figaro’s first aria, and it was closer, closer, but it wasn’t there yet. And suddenly, this summer, in Germany, Figaro was with me! Now I can sing the ‘Largo al factotum’ and enjoy it.”

Zapiór looks forward to returning to Europe but says he will miss New York. “You know what is funny? When I arrived in New York for my auditions, for Juilliard, I was staying at my friend Jakub [Józef] Orlin´ski’s place. My first day in New York was the day Jakub got the issue of the opera news with him in the ‘Sound Bites’ section. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, how super-cool for him!’ And I never thought that one day I would be there as well.” spacer

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