Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

10 Questions for...
Ildebrando D'Arcangelo

September 13, 2011

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo. Photo: Uwe Arens/DG 2011

This weekend brings the opening of the Los Angeles Opera season and the other half of the company’s 1-2 punch to kick things off this year is Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. The show promises to be particularly exciting for the inclusion of a number of world-class Mozart specialists. Certainly the most devastatingly handsome of these is the international Italian star, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo who’ll make his company debut in the role of Guglielmo. His Mozart roles have been preserved in a number of recordings including my personal favorite, his appearance as Figaro in the 2006 Claus Guth production of Le Nozze di Figaro captured at the Salzburg Festival alongside Anna Netrebko, Dorothea Röschmann, Christine Schäfer, and Bo Skovhus. (Check out a sample of D'Arcangelo's performance below.) But if you’re looking for more evidence of the composer most near and dear to D’Arcangelo’s heart be sure to check out his latest Deutsche Grammophon recital recording of Mozart arias that appears in stores and online in the U.S. today. The major arias from all the DaPonte operas are here as well as a few concert arias. They are beautifully sung with D'Arcangelo's rich warm tone. It’s a testament to how he got where he is in the opera world and comes highly recommended. Needless to say, Out West Arts was smitten with the chance to pose 10 Questions to the charming bass-baritone who kindly agreed to take a break from his rehearsal schedule to do so.

  1. What role would you most like to perform, but haven't yet?

    Méphistophélès in Faust, which I'll sing in 2015. I've done Boito's Mefistofele. I'm really in love with this kind of music, even though I'm a good guy. The more I think about the afterlife, it's a mystery that attracts me more.

  2. What role would you never perform, even if you could?

    No Wagner now, but maybe in ten years. Wotan is a dream. I'm really slow in deciding what to sing.

  3. You'll soon be making your Los Angeles Opera debut as the young lover Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte. As a bass-baritone, is it more fun being bad or being funny on the opera stage and why?

    I really love both, and that's the beautiful thing about this job. You can really fly along with the music and really get into the clothes of the character you play. The satisfaction is not in the applause, it's in how you interpret the role.

  4. You're best known as an interpreter of Mozart and have a new Deutsche Grammophon recording of his music that is just out in the U.S. What's the best thing about singing Mozart?

    Oh, it's my life! It's so attuale [relevant]. Something like Così fan tutte could really happen. Mozart is so simple and perfect. I think that he came from another world.

  5. What's the best thing about singing something other than Mozart?

    Mozart is my first choice, but some music directors forget that you have the capacity to do other things. They'll see a singer as only a Wagnerian, or a Donizettiano or a Mozartean. I like to do everything: Verdi, Mozart, Rossini....

  6. Which music made you want to sing opera?

    My father was a musician. He wanted to name me Radames, but my mother said no. When I was a teenager, I was singing in a chorus and the director brought in the mezzo-soprano Monica Bacelli to help us with our singing. She told me that I had a beautiful voice and she started to teach me. My first opera was Don Giovanni, when I was 16. The finale was completely amazing.

  7. A remarkable number of your performances over the years have been preserved on both audio and video. Is there a particular recording you are glad was saved for posterity?

    I'm very happy with the Deutsche Grammophon album of Handel arias. The agility and the range of these arias work really well for me.

  8. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo and Saimir Pirgu in LA Opera's Cosi fan tutte. Photo: Robert Millard/LAO 2011

  9. You've worked with most of the major conductors and vocalists in the opera world over the length of your career. Is there someone you haven't worked with yet you'd like to?

    It was Carlos Kleiber. Now it's Christian Thielemann.

  10. What's your current obsession?

    Movies. It's like a dream to be here in Los Angeles, the patria. I went to Universal Studios, and it's unbelievable how everything looks completely different from what you see on TV.

  11. With which of your operatic roles do you have the most in common?

    Don Giovanni. Let's leave the reason as a mystery. Giovanni would never reveal his secrets.

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