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Backstage with Robert Alagna
A dressing room chat with France's new tenor star

OperaNet had the good fortune to encounter Roberto Alagna in his dressing room during one of the intervals of Don Carlos at the Châtelet. The young tenor was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

OperaNet: Not so long ago, you were talking about giving up Don Carlos, but fortunately this didn't happen. Why were you considering not singing this opera?

Roberto Alagna: I'm not entirely certain if I made the right choice because, as the expression goes, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country", and that applies to me as well.

OperaNet: Yes, it too often is true.

RA: I try to do my best, I try to enlarge my repertoire, not only for myself but also for the audience and also with a sense of professional responsibility, and it seems as if all my efforts are in vain because people are never satisified: the public is but not the critics.

OperaNet: Do you notice a difference in singing Verdi in French rather than in Italian?

RA: The difference isn't there. Verdi composed this opera to a French text and the music fits the words very well. And it's true that now I've studied the role in French, when I listen to the Italian version it seems to wobble.

OperaNet: We've already seen you at Toulouse in Roméo et Juliette and Bohème and at Montpellier in Faust, and we must say that hearing you sing in French is simply glorious. Are you going to sing other roles in French?

RA: Of course. I've just recorded Contes d'Hoffmann [for Erato] and I'm studying Werther and Damnation de Faust

OperaNet: Where are you going to sing the Berlioz?

RA: At Carnegie Hall, with James Levine.

OperaNet: And at the same time you will continue to sing the Italian repertoire?

RA: Certainly, the normal lyric tenor repertoire.

At this point we are joined by Angela Ghiorghiu, the young Romanian soprano who leapt to fame after her performance last season of Traviata at Covent Garden with Sir Georg Solti, and then during the summer at Salzburg with Riccardo Muti. She and Alagna now form an on and offstage couple.

OperaNet: You spend as much time together as possible.

AG: Yes, either I'm in the auditorium or onstage.

OperaNet: We suppose that you will now try to sing together as much as possible. Will that involve a change in repertoire?

RA: No, because we happen to sing the same operas. Nothing will change at all.

OperaNet: Are you going to sing Romèo et Juliette again now that you have both recorded it for EMI?

RA: We're going to sing it at the Met and in Chicago.

As Alagna has been drinking a magic potion during all this time, we couldn't resist asking what it was.

RA: Tea.

OperaNet: Just tea?

RA: With honey; in fact, it's a tisane, to calm me down.

OperaNet: Do you need to be calmed down now?

RA: I always have to be calmed down.

OperaNet: We've read that you're going to sing Des Grieux.

RA: It's only a distant project for the moment. But we're going to do La Rondine with Maestro Pappano.

And with the arrival of Antonio Pappano who wishes to have a few words with the tenor we left the dressing room.

Click here to read Joel Kasow's review of the Paris production of Don Carlos.

Click here to read Operanet's review of two new recital discs by Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu.

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