Last night at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, the strapping young Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo made his debut to a sold out house in the role of Rudolfo in Giacomo Puccinis La Bohme. The production by Franco Zefirelli was spectacular.
The casting of Mr. Grigolo in this opera was perfect for the role, for, like Puccini, he put his heart and soul into his performance. Many describing Mr. Grigolos flawless performance will use adjectives such as spectacular, unparalleled, etc. but, in my opinion, they pale after one witnessed the magic of this flawless lyric performance that moved the audience to tears.
Audience members were amazed as he effortlessly trumpeted the high Cs in the opening aria of Che gelida Manina. The effect was electrifying. His voice had a clear, penetrating timbre, alive with the resonance known to singers as ping. At the same time, it radiated an empathetically passionate warm romantic luster of prodigious vocal beauty which caused the audience to spontaneously break out cheering.
Mr. Grigolos sound is unique and instantly recognizable; it possesses what the Italians call squillo, a bright ringing sound which is particularly thrilling to hear. The seductive sensuousness of his voice coupled with his diction and enunciation of the Italian language is exemplary and a point of great beauty in and of itself. He takes his operatic interpretation seriously which is a testament to the accuracy of his technique. Couple all of these attributes with his stunning good looks and you have the contemporary face of opera; young, romantic, passionate and sexy.
Onstage, he connects viscerally with his audience. As applause washed over him at the end of the opera, he humbly bowed and extended his arms to include his leading lady and the cast. The enthusiasm, fervor, and generosity of spirit shone through in his performance.
No longer on the cusp of international stardom, all who were present last night acknowledged that on this particular evening, they had been afforded the privilege of seeing Vittorio Grigolo arrive as the undisputed tenor of the hour.
I had met Mr. Grigolo in 2007 when he appeared at the Washington National Opera in the same Puccini opera and was completely fascinated to see how his voice had grown and matured with its Tessitura (comfortable singing range), color, texture, depth and body. He was an exemplary model of the spinto type tenor who loves and cries as he effortlessly sings high Cs.
After the performance, I had a chance to chat with the charismatic young Italian tenor who seemed moved and incredulous that he had conquered the Big Apple. Always charming, witty and modest he attributed his performance to the inner joy that singing has given him and the inspiration and purpose in his life.
Carmen Ileana Romn writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.