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.
The 2017/18 season includes a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago in two of Polenzani’s signature roles – the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles. Mr. Polenzani then travels to New York City to reprise his portrayal of Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, praised by The New York Times for his “ardor, richness and power” in his previous outings of the love-struck peasant. He continues on to Switzerland to make his role debut as Rodolfo in Verdi’s tragic Luisa Miller at Opernhaus Zürich. Following this engagement, he travels to the Royal Opera House to star as Rodolfo in La Bohème.
Concert appearances next season include a performance as the tenor soloist in Haydn’s Creation with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival led by Maestro James Levine; “A Night at the Opera” concert with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Saratoga, NY; arias and ensemble pieces as part of “Stars of Lyric Opera” at Millenium Park in Chicago; and he will be featured as a guest artist with the annual Monteverdi Tuscany Festival in Siena, Italy.
In the 2016/17 season, Polenzani starred as an “exquisite” (Opera News) Fernand in a new production of Donizetti’s La Favorite at the Bayerische Staatsoper, which is now available for purchase on DVD. He also sang Rodolfo and Tamino in the revivals of La Bohème and Die Zauberflöte in Munich. He made his greatly anticipated return to The Metropolitan Opera stage to star in three productions: Idomeneo (title role), Der Rosenkavalier (The Italian Singer) which was featured in a Live in HD broadcast, and Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio). He sang Tamino in Die Zauberföte and was a featured soloist in the “Chicago Voices” Gala Concert for his hometown company, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was performed in concert with the New York Philharmonic, singing Händel’s Messiah and Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn at the Carnegie Hall in New York.
In the 2015/2016 season, Mr. Polenzani was Don Ottavio at the Opéra National de Paris in Michael Haneke’s acclaimed Don Giovanni. He sang Werther at the Bayerische Staatsoper and at the Wiener Staatsoper and he debuted at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona singing Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème. His role debuts at The Metropolitan Opera include Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles and Roberto Devereux, in a production by Sir David McVicar, with both operas being featured on the Met’s Live in HD series and released on DVD. He also essayed Die Schöne Müllerin in performance at Northwestern University. Concert appearances have included the Mostly Mozart Gala Event, a concert at the Ravinia Festival with pianist Kevin Murphy, and a Liederabend in at Oper Frankfurt with pianist Julius Drake.
Career highlights from recent Metropolitan Opera seasons include the premieres of Bartlett Sher’s production of L’elisir d’amore, which opened the 2012 season and Sir David McVicar’s production of Maria Stuarda (issued on DVD by Erato); Willy Decker’s production of La traviata, 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, many conducted by his musical mentor, James Levine. His vast-ranging repertory includes La clemenza di Tito, Werther, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, La traviata, Roméo et Juliette, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, Il barbiere di Siviglia and Die Zauberflöte, with performances at top houses in America including Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and more.
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 include 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, I Capuleti e I Montecchi at the Paris Opera; L’elisir d’amore 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; Lucia di Lammermoor in Paris, Vienna and Frankfurt; La Damnation de Faust at Frankfurt Opera and Berlin at the Deutsche Oper; 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 constantly in demand for concert engagements with the world’s most influential conductors, including Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Frizza, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Louis Langrée, James Levine, 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 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; a solo recital with James Levine at the piano in Weill Hall; and in a Schubert Liederabend on the stage of Isaac Stern Auditorium with colleagues Renée Fleming, Anne Sofie Von Otter, and René Pape, again with James Levine as pianist.
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].