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.
Matthew Polenzani begins his 2023/24 season starring as the title character in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito at the Wiener Staatsoper before making his role debut as Orombello in Bellini’s rarely performed Beatrice di Tenda at Teatro di San Carlo. He then returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Rodolfo in La Bohème and makes another thrilling role debut as Florestan in Fidelio at Staatsoper Hamburg. Later in the season, he reprises the role of Giasone in Sir David McVicar’s production of Medea at the Canadian Opera Company and appears as Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at both the Met and Teatro Real de Madrid. On the concert platform, Mr. Polenzani joins the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus for Verdi’s Requiem led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Additionally, he performs as the tenor soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Chicago Symphony under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis.
During the 2022/23 season, Mr. Polenzani appeared at The Metropolitan Opera as Cavaradossi in Tosca and Giasone in the company premiere of Cherubini’s Medea. Following his successful role debut as Verdi’s titular Don Carlos the prior season, he performed the role in Italian at Teatro di San Carlo and later sang the title role of Massenet’s Werther at Houston Grand Opera. At Staatsoper Hamburg, he portrayed The Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Hoffmann in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Additionally, he starred in a concert version of Massenet’s Hérodiade with Deutsche Oper Berlin, performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Utah Symphony, and joined tenors Michael Fabiano and Evan LeRoy Johnson for their “Three American Tenors” program with the Fort Worth Symphony, led by Robert Spano. Polenzani concluded his season with a return to two Mozartian roles that have become cornerstones in his career: The Magic Flute at the Ravinia Festival and Idomeneo at the Aspen Music Festival.
With the global re-opening of opera houses, the 2021/22 season saw Mr. Polenzani return to the Metropolitan Opera for Verdi’s Requiem, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Additionally, he starred in three productions at the Met Opera: Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Tamino), Puccini’s La Bohème (Rodolfo), and the title role of Don Carlos, marking his role debut. New York Classical Review praised his performance, writing “this star tenor managed to combine pure beauty and sweetness with a sense of maturity and even heroism”. Furthermore, the production was featured on PBS’ Great Performances at The Met. Mr. Polenzani returned to the Opéra national de Paris as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore and later made his debut at the Canadian Opera Company as Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata. He also made his debut as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca at the Savonlinna Opera Festival and starred as Tito in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito at the Ravinia Festival under the baton of James Conlon.
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.
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.
Last update: August 2023
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].