The whole cast is new to the opera. There’s excitement backstage. Alessandro Corbelli speaks about the production in which he sings Michonnet.
“We are all making our debuts this time”, says Corbelli, who has many years of experience, and is well respected. “It’s new for all of us, the conductor (Mark Elder), the stars and the comprimario. Rehearsals started early for the prima on 18th November. “We’re all excited, everything is going well. And it’s set in period with period costumes”. The director is David McVicar and designs are by Charles Edwards.
Corbelli worked with Mark Elder in Linda di Chamounix in September 2009. “I know his way of working. He helps me extract the best from my voice and the character. Everything is based on the music. He knows the Italian language well, and even the different regional accents. That’s very unusual for a non-Italian conductor”.
“This is verismo, Cilea’s music comes from spoken language, very high notes for the soprano, Angela Gheorghiu”. Is Italian the language of music? “I hope so!” smiles Corbelli, whose reputation is built on extensive experience in Italian repertoire.
In Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Corbelli is singing Michonnet. “Michonnet is the Stage Manager at the ComÈdie-FranÁaise where Adriana is the star. So he has influence and is very involved in how the plot develops. He was Adriana’s teacher, so he knows her very well. He’s in love with her. He wants to show his feelings, but she confides in him that she’s in love with a young Saxon. Michonnet is wounded, but he’s sensitive and caring. He knows he’s much older than Adriana and wants her to be happy. He knows she’s depressed about her love affair. So even though he loves her, he tries to help her by sending a letter to Maurizio”.
“When Michonnet discovers that the Princess de Bouillon is in love with Maurizio, he knows the rivalry will be trouble. He wants to protect Adriana and keep her calm, but it doesn’t work. Adriana explodes with strong emotions. Then the poisoned violets come, and she dies”
“In my opinion”, adds Corbelli, “The Princess is young like Adriana. The Prince is much older and has affairs with other women. So when the Princess falls in love with Maurizio, she can’t stand competition. Michonnet is kind hearted. He’s a good man, but he cannot stop the tragedy”.
Since his debut at the early age of 22, Corbelli has become an outstanding exponent of bel canto and Mozart roles for baritone. He has sung in all the major opera houses, including La Scala since 1989, and The Metropolitan Opera, New York where he debuted in 1997. He is a regular at the Royal Opera House, London where most recently he sang Don Geronio in Il Turco in Italia and Sulpice in La Fille du Regiment. (Please read the respective reviews in Opera Today. here and here)
Next season, he’s singing Taddeo in Paris, Dulcamara in Munich, Don Alfonso in Vienna, Bartolo and Falstaff in Toulouse and Don Pasquale in Santiago de Chile. He’s booked until 2015.
Corbelli is celebrated as a character singer. The ease with which he creates such diverse roles indicates great acting skills. “They didn’t teach that when I was training”, he says. “But I’m always learning, on stage and by watching and listening to others. He’s created both Dandini and Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, both Don Pasquale and Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale. “Of course, not at the same time!”, he bursts out laughing. Good character singing comes from wit and observation.
For more information, please see the Royal Opera House website
Adriana Lecouvreur runs from 18th November to 10th December 2010 and stars Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, Alessandro Corbelli, Michaela Schuster and Maurizio Muraro.
product_title=New Adriana Lecouvrer in London — Alessandro Corbelli
product_by=An interview by Anne Ozorio
product_id=Above: Alessandro Corbelli