Ildebrando D’Arcangelo is in the City of Angels appearing in “Così fan Tutte” at the Los Angeles Opera. The bass-baritone “projects a swaggering confidence and dangerous sex appeal” says the Los Angeles Times, acquiring “fans around the world as much for his voice as for his model looks”. He appears tall on stage because of his proportions, but face-to-face while he’s not petite, he’s not a hunk either; the bari-hunk label is one he, unsurprisingly, doesn’t much like:
To be honest, I’m uncomfortable. I appreciate it if people say something about looking good. In opera, if you see a beautiful person, it helps. But for me, honestly, I never thought about it,”
he said in a recent interview.
Artistic directors of companies try to classify singers, it makes life easier for them. They think you are a Mozartean and that’s all you can do.”
But after such a stream of successes in Mozart roles, who could blame them. His choice of repertoire for his latest recital for Deutsche Grammophon was an all-Mozart programme. But he’s now looking to expand his vocal horizons with Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” – scheduled for Chicago in 2012 – and the heavier title role in Verdi’s “Attila”.
I am not so much a ‘bass-baritone’, I am more what we call a ‘basso cantabile‘,
he told the LA Times.
When I saw the first opera in my life, I hated it. I was 6 or 7. The second one was ‘The Barber of Seville’ when I was 16 years old. I was in the chorus and we sang for pleasure.”
Italians always are surprised at the reactions of an anglo-saxon audience to a comic opera. It is a source of bemusement when they hear guffaws during a broadcast from the Met or Covent Garden .
People laugh here when we do a funny scene. In Italy, they are silent. They don’t laugh. Maybe they don’t want to disturb the music.”
Sometimes the Italian puzzlement is caused by the reaction coming at the wrong place because of the surtitles, resulting in a laugh before the punchline has been sung. Aleksandra Kurzak, who plays Fiordiligi ro D’Arcangelo’s Guglielmo, admires his comic gifts:
It’s important to play the comedy not as comedy. We try to play the comedy as serious as possible and then it becomes funny for the audience.”
Later next season he will return to Los Angeles for “Don Giovanni”.
Everyone thinks he is a bad guy. But I think he’s a sad guy, someone trying to fill an emptiness of the soul. It’s not about being obviously beautiful, it’s in the mystery — the way he talks and sings.”
D’Arcangelo told the LA Times that he models his “Don Giovanni” on two performances he’s admired: Antonio Banderas in the Broadway musical “Nine” and John Malkovich in the movie “Dangerous Liaisons”.
It’s about magnetism. Malkovich isn’t a good-looking man, but you want to watch him. That is Giovanni.”
read all via latimes.com
Photo: © Uwe Arens / DG
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo is a Deutsche Grammophon artist
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.