Matthew Polenzani Interview: In ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ the tenor goes home early

Richard Carter

Blasting News

The gifted tenor is a favorite at Metropolitan Opera; he expounded on his brief role in Richard Strauss’ mammoth comedy of manners."

Count on #Everything Music and Theatre to bring you what you want, in this case an exclusive interview with American tenor #Matthew Polenzani, a favorite with #Metropolitan Opera audiences. This spring he performed three roles there, in three operas: the daunting title role of Mozart’s “Idomeneo, re di Creta”; Ottavio in “Don Giovanni” by the same composer, a bread-and-butter role; and, the briefest, “ein italienischer Sänger”—an unnamed Italian singer—in Richard Strauss’ massive comedy of errors “Der Rosenkavalier” (The Rose-Bearing Squire). This overlapped with Ottavio, at times requiring consecutive-night performances. Regarding that microscopic role in the gigantic German opera, the tenor took time to explain his performance routine for a role that allows him to go home earlier than with any other opera.

Idomeneo is a “big sing”: three acts across four hours, including two intermissions, with the tenor seldom missing from the stage. In contrast, Matthew Polenzani says of Ottavio that It’s “a vacation-type piece in that I don’t have to work much during the evening.” Huh? In case it’s lost on you amid all that modesty, other than ensemble numbers, Ottavio sings a major aria in each of the opera’s two acts. “Dalla sua pace la mia dipende” (My tranquillity depends on hers) is an exercise in elegant legato singing, whereas “Il mio tesoro” (My treasure) is full of fioriture (vocal embellishments like scales and a zillion notes to be sung in a nanosecond).

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