Marcello Giordani is performing for the Supremes.
No, the Italian tenor isn't auditioning for a crossover career. He's been invited to give a private recital Thursday night in Washington for the Supreme Court.
"I don't know how important it is, but everybody told me it's a great honor to sing for them," Giordani said. "I found out that one of the judges, his parents are from my town."
That would be Antonin Scalia, and the town is Augusta, in Sicily. Like the nine justices, Giordani is at the top of his profession.
One of the most sought-after spinto tenors, he earned rave reviews last fall in the Metropolitan Opera's opening-night production of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly," and he's about to star there in a revival of Verdi's "Simon Boccanegra," which opens Monday.
He sings Paolo in Zandonai's "Francesca da Rimini" for the first time on June 3 in Zurich and makes his debut as Alvaro in Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" in Florence on Nov. 25.
"Marcello is not content to be blessed with a marvelous voice. This is no smug tenor," said Anthony Minghella, who directed him in the Met "Butterfly" performances as the American sailor Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a role that requires the singer to balance passion and callousness.
"He was exemplary in the rehearsal room, attentive, involved, wanting to improve as an actor. He was able _ and I think this is unusual _ to surrender any preconceptions he had about a role he has sung many times before and arrive in our production as an enthusiastic innocent."
Giordani, 44, is the son of a prison guard who retired and then owned a gas station.
"That's mostly where I made my debut, making coffee," he said. "People still remember me when I was 12 or 13, singing or bringing coffee."
He made his professional debut as the Duke in Verdi's "Rigoletto" at Spoleto, Italy, in 1986 and his American debut as Nadir in Bizet's "Les Pecheurs de Perles" at the Portland Opera during the 1988-89 season.
He moved to Milan when he was 23, but considers the key to his career when he moved to New York in 1994 and began studying with voice coach Bill Schuman _ "my miracle, my blessing," Giordani calls him. In addition, the singer developed a strong relationship with Met music director James Levine.
He splits his time now between Augusta and a Manhattan apartment he bought in 1994 _ his family comes with him to New York and his children receive a bilingual education.
His high notes ring _ he is proud that he sings Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme" in the original key. His stage movement _ and a bad back _ have improved since he lost 25 pounds.
At the Met, where he triumphed in the house premiere of Berlioz's "Benvenuto Cellini" in December 2003, he enjoys high-profile status in the Italian repertoire along with Rolando Villazon and Salvatore Licitra, who sang at the Supreme Court two years ago. New general manager Peter Gelb has Giordani down for numerous roles in upcoming seasons _ Giordani sings his second straight opening night next season, in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," then appears in revivals of Verdi's "Ernani" and Puccini's "Manon Lescaut." The following year he stars in the Met's first staged performance of Berlioz's "La Damnation de Faust" since 1907. In 2008-9, the Met also plans to bring back Giordani and soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domas for a revival of "Butterfly" that will be broadcast to theaters in high-definition and replayed on television.
Looking at his future schedule, Giordani has contracts through 2012.
"He is one of the handful of the greatest tenors performing today," Gelb said. "Each of them has their own distinctive qualities. Certainly the top of his voice is incredible. He is a great singer, a great artist. One of Jimmy Levine's favorites, as well. I think he has grown, and I think that comes in his part with working with great directors. I think particularly his experience working with Anthony Minghella added significantly to his sense of dramatic interpretation."
Giordani said that Minghella made him unlearn many of the movements taught to him over the years by opera directors who wanted his movements visible from the top row of the top level. Minghella taught him that every movement must be made for a reason and must have a motivation behind it.
"I learned that less is good," Giordani said.
Source: AP News