Monday, February 22, 2016

Furlanetto Celebrates SDO Anniversary in Concert



By Erica Miner 

Famed bass-baritone Ferruccio Furlanetto will commemorate the 31st anniversary of his San Diego Opera debut with his first American concert appearance on Mar. 5, to be held at the Jacobs Music Center at Copley Symphony Hall. The San Diego Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Emanuele Andrizzi, making his SDO debut, will accompany Furlanetto in arias from such operas as Simon Boccanegra, Boris Godunov, Don Quixote and Faust.

Furlanetto and SDO have enjoyed an exceptionally close and cordial relationship since the singer’s 1985 debut in the title role of Oberto. His international celebrity status is recognized worldwide from performances in leading roles at the world’s top opera houses. Having now performed in both the historical Mariinsky and Bolshoi Theatres, Furlanetto is the only Western artist who has sung Boris Godunov on these two Russian main stages.

EM: Welcome back to San Diego Opera, Maestro Furlanetto! We are so honored that you have chosen to celebrate your 31 splendid years with the company in your American concert debut here. What motivated your decision to perform this first American concert in San Diego?

FF: Erica, San Diego has always represented a very special place for me through all these years. When two years ago there was the shocking announcement of the possible closure of the San Diego Opera, I offered to perform a concert to let people understand the importance of an opera season and what they were going to lose. Unfortunately in that occasion it was not made possible, so here I am with the same purpose although the theater survived and continues to exist.

EM: Your repertoire for this concert includes arias from a wide variety of Italian, French and Russian operas: Don Giovanni, Don Quixote, Boris Godunov, Simon Boccanegra and others. How did you choose these particular selections?

FF: The choice of the program has been based on all the operas that I performed with you in 30 years, plus some arias or songs that I would have loved to sing but did not find the occasion to be proposed.

EM: On the subject of Simon Boccanegra, do you feel a special resonance with the role of Fiesco?

FF: Simon Boccanegra, since Abbado took it back from oblivion in the 70’s, became a very performed opera around the world. It is a magnificent piece of the late period of Verdi's compositions and it became an important part of my career. In comparison with other important Verdi roles (King Phillip excluded) this one is adding to the typical Verdi bass characters a priceless moment of redemption and humanity during the final duet with Boccanegra, making Fiesco one of the most interesting characters in the whole repertoire.

EM: You very recently appeared as guest star of the first fully staged production of the opera in St. Petersburg. Please describe what must have been an amazing experience there.

FF: Since 12 years I appear regularly in the program and in the Festival of the Mariinsky. In the past I spoke often with Gergiev about taking this splendid opera in their repertoire and finally Gergiev, who always loved it, made it happen. The success was huge and very rewarding.

EM: How would you describe the differences between singing in the new Mariinsky production to your experiences in the role with other companies such as the Met Opera and Vienna Opera?

FF: The Mariinsky production comes from Venezia and Genova Opera Theaters and it is rather traditional, very beautiful visually, lovely costumes and well sung and conducted, so I would not find any specific difference from the productions of New York, London or Vienna where these fundamental principles were the same achieved targets.

EM: At this point in your long and distinguished career, do you prefer singing on the opera stage or on the concert stage, or are you still equally fond of doing both?

FF: I am first of all an opera singer. Being on stage singing these magnificent roles and interpreting fascinating characters is the greatest privilege and honor in my artistic life. In about the last 15 years, I like to have moments of special achievements in the lieder world, especially Winterreise and my Russian recital. Opera, though, remains my first interest. I certainly enjoy so much having this frequent alternative between these two repertoires.

EM: What are some of your upcoming opera and concert performances?

FF: This spring I will have 4 different Boccanegras, New York, Barcelona, Berlin and Vienna, then the White Night Festival of St Petersburg with Boris, Assassinio nella Cattedrale, and Boccanegra. A beautiful Barbiere production in London, at the Royal Opera, will follow. A tour in Japan with my Russian recital together with Don Carlo with the Mariinsky theater ensemble and finally my beloved Don Quichotte at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, in San Diego’s production - it will be, a bit, like being with you all once more.

EM: Many thanks, Maestro! We look forward to what I am sure will be a thrilling performance.



Photos used by permission of:
Igor Sakharov, Ken Howard, Valentin Baranovsky, VS, J. Kat Photo
Erica Miner can be reached at: eminer5472@gmail.com

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