“It’s simply one of the most beautiful art forms in the world” says opera superstar Matthew Polenzani

Trevor Gillis

Opera Sense

It’s simply one of the most beautiful art forms in the world ..."

Matthew Polenzani is one of today’s opera superstars – he has sung it all and performed everywhere, all to great acclaim. He has a voice that today’s young artists know, respect, and attempt to emulate. Mr. Polenzani is one of the most sought after lyric tenors on stage today.

What do you do the day of a performance? How do you get yourself prepared and warmed up?

Usually, I don’t do much on the day of a performance. When I’m on the road, I like to exercise, and then relax a bit. Go for a walk, or watch a movie. If I’m home, my wife usually has errands or things for me to do, so that I can stay busy, and not make her or the kids nervous with my own nervousness. That usually starts sometime in the mid-afternoon, but by the time I get to the theater, they’ve settled down, and I’m ready to work. I try to eat dinner about 2 hours before the show, and start warming up about an hour and a half before curtain.

What does your music library at home consist of besides opera box sets?

I’m pretty much a rock and roll guy when it comes to what I listen to. Some of my favorites are: Coldplay, Steven Curtis Chapman, Van Morrison, Adele, The Killers, Billy Joel, U2, Jars of Clay, Imagine Dragons, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bob Seger and Casting Crowns, amongst lots of others.

Your next role at the Met is the title character in Mozart’s Idomeneo, one of my favorite works of his. What’s your favorite aria to sing from this work?

Well, I love both of his arias. I love “Vedrommi intorno” for the insight it gives into Idomeneo’s soul when we first meet him. I love “Fuor del mar” for the dramatic way the coloratura adds to the weight pressing down on him. He’s got a third aria in the last act that we’re not doing, and in fact, I’ve never sung. The whole opera is full of absolutely great music, and I’m with you, when you say it’s one of your favorite works of his. It’s one of mine too!

Musicologists love to talk about how Idomeneo marks the beginning of Mozart’s “mature” period. In what ways is this true? What are some things audience members could see or listen for that mark this transition?

Harmonically, and dramatically, this is an incredibly mature work. Some of the harmonic progressions are very forward looking, especially in the third act, but in other places as well. Dramatically, this subject matter is some of the most psychologically challenging you’ll find in Mozart. The choral writing is incredible, and you can easily argue that in this piece, the chorus is just as important as any of the leading parts. The Met chorus, by the way, is sounding absolutely glorious, and they are enjoying and embracing their role.

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