A wonderfully fresh and robust voice, with clarion top notes and a gift for sweet phrasing …
American tenor Matthew Polenzani is one of the most gifted and distinguished lyric tenors of his generation. His elegant musicianship, innate sense of style, dramatic commitment, and timeless artistry have established his continued presence at leading operatic, concert, and recital venues worldwide.
Mr. Polenzani’s autumn 2020 season began with a recital with his longtime collaborator Julius Drake at Teatro de la Zarzuela. Additionally, he recorded a virtual recital for Vocal Arts DC in November. In 2021, Mr. Polenzani, he stars as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at Palm Beach Opera in February, and as the title role in Werther in Stuttgart in March and April. Concluding the season, Polenzani sings the title role of Mozart’s Idomeneo and performs in recital with Julius Drake at the Bayerische Staatsoper. He was expected to return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and the Royal Opera House as Don Jose in Bizet’s Carmen, but unfortunately, both productions have been canceled due to the pandemic safety measures.
In the 2019/20 season, Mr. Polenzani starred in three productions at the Metropolitan Opera: Macbeth (Macduff), La Bohème (Rodolfo), and Der Rosenkavalier (The Italian Singer). For the Met’s New Year’s Eve Gala, he sang Act I of La Bohème opposite superstar soprano, Anna Netrebko. He also returned to the Bayerische Staatsoper to sing Don José in Carmen. The following performances were canceled due to the pandemic: Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Fidelio, which would’ve marked his role debut as Florestan, both at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden; two recitals with Julius Drake; and a masterclass at Northwestern University. In July 2020, Mr. Polenzani made his highly anticipated house debut at the Teatro Real de Madrid in a semi-staged version of Verdi’s La Traviata as Alfredo.
Career highlights from previous Metropolitan Opera seasons include the premieres of Bartlett Sher’s production of L’Elisir d’Amore, which opened the 2012 season, Sir David McVicar’s production of Maria Stuarda (issued on DVD by Erato), as well as McVicar’s new production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, which was featured on PBS’ Great Performances at the Met. Further highlights include his role debut as Vaudémont in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, Penny Woolcock’s production of Les Pêcheurs de Perles (issued on DVD by Erato), Willy Decker’s production of La Traviata, Robert Carsen’s production of Der Rosenkavalier (issued on DVD by Decca), Julie Taymor’s legendary staging of Die Zauberflöte (DVD available from The Metropolitan Opera), and revivals of Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Rigoletto, Don Pasquale (Deutsche Grammophon DVD release), Don Giovanni, Roméo et Juliette, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Così fan tutte, Falstaff, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (DVD available from Deutsche Grammophon), and L’Italiana in Algeri. To date, he has starred in more than 300 performances at The Met.
Following Matthew Polenzani’s debut as Gérald in Delibes’s Lakmé with Opéra National de Bordeaux in France in 1998, appearances at major European theaters have included productions of Don Pasquale and La Traviata at the Teatro Comunale in Florence, the Aix-en-Provence Festival (DVD available on Bel Air Classiques) and on a tour of Japan with Teatro Regio Torino; La Traviata at the Opernhaus Zurich; Don Giovanni, and I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Paris Opera; La Favorite, Werther, L’Elisir d’Amore, La Bohème, and Die Zauberflöte at the Bayerische Staatsoper; L’Elisir d’Amore at the Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro San Carlo, and Teatro dell’ Opera di Roma; Così fan tutte and Idomeneo at Covent Garden with Sir Colin Davis and in Paris with Philippe Jordan; La Bohème at Gran Teatre del Liceu; Lucia di Lammermoor in Paris, Vienna, and Frankfurt; La Damnation de Faust at Frankfurt Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; Manon in London and on a tour of Japan with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Idomeneo in Torino with Gianandrea Noseda; Manon with Fabio Luisi and La Traviata at La Scala; Rigoletto at the Wiener Staatsoper, conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos, and Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival (DVD available on EuroArts).
Mr. Polenzani is continuously in demand for concert engagements with the world’s most influential conductors, including James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Frizza, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Louis Langrée, Jesús López-Cobos, Riccardo Muti, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Jeffrey Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, David Zinman, Riccardo Chailly, and Daniel Harding. He frequently performs with premiere ensembles in the United States and Europe, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Orchestra del Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National de France, and the Münchner Philharmoniker.
In recital, Matthew Polenzani has appeared in numerous venues across America with pianist Julius Drake, and at London’s Wigmore Hall (available on CD from the Wigmore Hall label). He has also appeared with noted pianist Richard Goode in a presentation of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Vanished at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, and in recital at the Verbier Festival with pianist Roger Vignoles (commercially available on CD from VAI). Mr. Polenzani was honored to have sung on all three stages of Carnegie Hall in one season: in concert with the MET Chamber Ensemble at Zankel Hall, in a solo recital in Weill Hall, and a Schubert Liederabend on the stage of Isaac Stern Auditorium.
Matthew Polenzani was the recipient of the 2004 Richard Tucker Award, The Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award, and a 2017 Opera News Award. An avid golfer, he makes his home in suburban New York with his wife, mezzo-soprano Rosa Maria Pascarella, and their three sons.
Occasionally singing with beautifully soft, honeyed tone, but mostly with all out romantic lyricism, he remains strong and rapturous throughout the opera. All in all, Polenzani’s is a stupendous portrayal [of Hoffmann].