Born in Lucca in Italy, baritone Massimo Cavalletti has already sung in most of the most prestigious opera houses worldwide, including the Met Opera, la Scala, Covent Garden or the Salzburg Festival.

Paris still had to discover him and will have the opportunity to welcome him this month. Massimo Cavalletti makes his debut at the Opéra de Paris these days, singing Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia !

Photos : Dario Acosta / MassimoCavalletti.com

Can you tell us about what decided you to sing and about your debut ?

I began my vocal training back in 1999. I was a very young man from Lucca who, while studying to become an engineer, discovered within himself the great force of music. Once I had realised the potential of what I had inside my throat, I fell in love with music and gave all my energy to the study of this art and to improving my work.

My official debut was in Donizetti’s Parisina in Bergamo in a production of the Academy of the Teatro alla Scala in October 2004, but I never speak about the three following years and all those concerts performed in small Italian towns and my experiences with my dear friend and talent scout Daniele Rubboli. I remember my first Bohème, which he organised, as Marcello at the Teatro Rosetum in Milan with a reduced orchestra on January 2003, and the gorgeous Mascagni’s Messa di Gloria under the musical direction of Maestro Massimo de Bernart. They were very important moments which truly changed my life giving me the strength to aim higher and higher.

From 2007 to 2011, you were a member of the Zurich Opera team. Can you tell us about this experience ?

I can say that, as a matter of fact, my contract with the Zurich Opera officially ended in 2013, because after Alexander Pereira left, I stayed for two more years, for a total of five years in that theatre, where I sang over 150 performances of so many different works. It was a real school for me, giving me the possibility to improve myself and grow, singing with the greatest artists of the international operatic scene. Alexander Pereira gave me a wonderful opportunity, and my work in Zurich gave life to so many collaborations which have been intensifying over the years, such us the ones with Maestro Daniele Gatti and Maestro Zubin Mehta, as well as with Maestro Fabio Luisi and many others. Zurich is a laboratory of art and music, a downright international showcase, a springboard which led me to all the major opera companies in the world. I am happy of all the roles I debuted in those years, as they were the backbone of all my career and still continue to be an opportunity for me to keep performing, now and in the future.

Are you excited about your debut at the Opéra de Paris in Il Barbiere di Siviglia ?

I am very excited but also moved by this debut : the Opéra Bastille, the National Opera have always been my dream since the beginning of my career, and making my local debut as Figaro is even more thrilling. I am curious to get to know this audience, to feel their reaction to this exciting and splendid production by Damiano Michieletto. Damiano really excelled himself here with a production containing all that is to be expected from this Rossini masterpiece. I am also elated to debut under the musical direction of Maestro Riccardo Frizza : it is our first collaboration, but I had long waited for it and finally we are together in this truly important evening.

You have already sung in many prestigious Opera houses : where would you like to sing ?

Honestly, I would love to sing at the Colón in Buenos Aires : it is a dream theatre, where the great singers of the past used to go when touring South America. I’ve never been to South America to sing, and not even for leisure, but I hope one day to receive a contract from that great opera house, and then also this dream will be fulfilled.

Would you like to sing baroque music or with period instruments ?

I don’t think this repertoire is congenial to my vocal characteristic and to my repertoire. For sure, should the right occasion arise, I would not back down, because it is always interesting to make new experiences. I would like to try and sing with a period instruments orchestra so as to understand if different materials and the lower pitching do make a big difference in the tessiture and actual performance, as it is usually said.

What are your main projects today and which roles would you like to sing in the future ?

I am about to return to the Metropolitan Opera New York as Enrico Asthon in Lucia di Lammermoor, a very important engagement. I am curious and excited to return to the Met with a role which will finally test my skills of lyrical singing in a romantic role. I have sung this role so many times, and I believe that now, with my vocal maturity and a more appropriate age it will really be interesting to reprise it.

Later this year, I will finally debut in the role of Conte di Luna in a production of Il Trovatore at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence under Maestro Fabio Luisi. It’s going to be a big challenge, for which I have been preparing for a long time. Another dream coming to life !

If you had to choose a « perfect role » for your voice, which one would it be ?

At the moment I’d say that the perfect role is Rodrigo di Posa in Don Carlo : I have interpreted it in several productions, both traditional and “new fashion”, and it has always given me huge satisfactions and great theatrical sense. I love how this character develops throughout the opera, and I love to make him grow both on stage and vocally, all the way to his final sacrifice to save his friend Carlo.

Which artists would you like to work with ?

I have really worked with the majority of the international artists, both with the more experienced ones as well as with those of younger generations. Today I hold in high regard Michael Fabiano : I would love to work with him, even more so if in operas of the French repertoire, or in any case in an opera where we would have a lot to sing together.

With regard to the ladies I have never sung with, I would love to perform together with Violeta Urmana, a truly fantastic singer in every respect. However, my biggest dream is to be conducted by Riccardo Muti: I have been admiring him since my Academy days and I have never had this honour. I do hope I’ll be able to sing under his baton.