Roberto Alagna

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Roberto Alagna
Roberto Alagna in 2004
Born (1963-06-07) 7 June 1963 (age 56) [1]
OccupationOpera singer (tenor)
Years active1988–present
Florence Lancien
(died 1994)
Angela Gheorghiu
(m. 1996;div. 2013)
Aleksandra Kurzak (m. 2015)

Roberto Alagna (French pronunciation:  [ʁɔ.bɛʁ.toɲa] ; Italian pronunciation:  [roˈbɛrto aˈlaɲɲa] ; born 7 June 1963) is a French tenor. He was born in Clichy-sous-Bois, Seine-Saint-Denis, France and obtained French citizenship at age 18, while also retaining his previous Italian citizenship. [2]

Tenor is a male voice type in classical music whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone. It is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.

Clichy-sous-Bois Commune in Île-de-France, France

Clichy-sous-Bois (French pronunciation: ​[kliʃi su bwa]; is a commune in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. The vast majority of its population is made up of African heritage, and the BBC described it as one of France's "most notorious" immigrant banlieues . It is in this city that the 2005 riots started. Clichy-sous-Bois is not served by any motorway, major road, or railway and therefore remains one of the most isolated of the inner suburbs of Paris.

Seine-Saint-Denis Department of France

Seine-Saint-Denis is a French department located in the Île-de-France region. Locally, it is often referred to colloquially as quatre-vingt treize or neuf trois, after its official administrative number, 93.


Early years

Alagna was born outside the city of Paris in 1963 to a family of Sicilian immigrants. As a teenager, the young Alagna began busking and singing pop in Parisian cabarets, [3] mostly for tips. [4] Influenced primarily by the films of Mario Lanza and learning from recordings of many historic tenors, he then switched to opera, but remained largely self-taught. [5] [6] He was discovered by Gabriel Dussurget, the co-founder of the Aix-en-Provence Festival. [7]

Sicily Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 20 regions of Italy. It is one of the five Italian autonomous regions, in Southern Italy along with surrounding minor islands, officially referred to as Regione Siciliana.

Cabaret event venue

Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue, which might be a pub, a restaurant, or a nightclub with a stage for performances. The audience, often dining or drinking, does not typically dance but usually sits at tables. Performances are usually introduced by a master of ceremonies or MC. The entertainment, as done by an ensemble of actors and according to its European origins, is often oriented towards adult audiences and of a clearly underground nature. In the United States striptease, burlesque, drag shows, or a solo vocalist with a pianist, as well as the venues which offer this entertainment, are often advertised as cabarets.

Mario Lanza American tenor and actor

Mario Lanza was an American tenor of Italian ancestry, and an actor and Hollywood film star of the late 1940s and the 1950s.


After winning the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, an initiative backed by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, that started in Modena in 1988, Alagna made his professional debut as Alfredo Germont in La traviata with the Glyndebourne touring company. [8] This led to many engagements throughout the smaller cities in France and Italy, mainly again as Alfredo, a role he would eventually sing over 150 times. His reputation grew and he was soon invited to sing at major theatres such as La Scala in 1990, Covent Garden in 1992 and the Metropolitan Opera as Rodolfo in 1996. His performances of Roméo in Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod at Covent Garden in 1994 (opposite Leontina Vaduva) catapulted him to international stardom. [9]

Luciano Pavarotti Italian operatic tenor

Luciano Pavarotti, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI was an Italian operatic tenor who also crossed over into popular music, eventually becoming one of the most commercially successful tenors of all time. He made numerous recordings of complete operas and individual arias, gaining worldwide fame for the quality of his tone, and eventually established himself as one of the finest tenors of the 20th century, achieving the honorific title "king of the high C's".

Modena Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Modena is a city and comune (municipality) on the south side of the Po Valley, in the Province of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.

<i>La traviata</i> 1853 opera by Giuseppe Verdi

La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La Dame aux camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. The opera was originally titled Violetta, after the main character. It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.

Alagna opened the 2006/07 season at La Scala on 7 December 2006 in the new production of Aida by Franco Zeffirelli. During the second performance on 10 December, Alagna, whose opening performance was considered ill-at-ease, was booed and whistled from the loggione (the least expensive seats at the very back of La Scala), and he walked off the stage. The tenor's reaction to his public criticism was denounced as immature and unprofessional by La Scala management and Zeffirelli, who said, "A professional should never behave in this way. Alagna is too sensitive, it is too easy to hurt his feelings. He does not know how to act like a true star." [10] The role of Radames was taken over successfully for the rest of the performance by his understudy Antonello Palombi, who entered on stage wearing jeans and a black shirt. [11]

<i>Aida</i> opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi

Aida is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni. Set in the Old Kingdom of Egypt, it was commissioned by Cairo's Khedivial Opera House and had its première there on 24 December 1871, in a performance conducted by Giovanni Bottesini. Today the work holds a central place in the operatic canon, receiving performances every year around the world; at New York's Metropolitan Opera alone, Aida has been sung more than 1,100 times since 1886. Ghislanzoni's scheme follows a scenario often attributed to the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, but Verdi biographer Mary Jane Phillips-Matz argues that the source is actually Temistocle Solera.

Franco Zeffirelli Italian director and producer of films and television

Gian Franco Corsi Zeffirelli,, best known as Franco Zeffirelli, is an Italian director and producer of operas, films and television. He is also a former senator (1994–2001) for the Italian centre-right Forza Italia party.

In theater, an understudy, referred to in opera as cover or covering, is a performer who learns the lines and blocking or choreography of a regular actor or actress in a play. Should the regular actor or actress be unable to appear on stage because of illness, injury, emergencies or death, the understudy takes over the part. Usually when the understudy takes over, the theater manager announces the cast change prior to the start of the performance. Coined in 1874, the term understudy has more recently generally been applied only to performers who can back up a role, but still regularly perform in another role.

In 2007 while at the Metropolitan Opera singing the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly , Alagna replaced the indisposed tenor Rolando Villazón as Romeo in Roméo et Juliette opposite soprano Anna Netrebko for two performances in September and two performances in December. His wife had flown to New York to be with him for the September engagements, and as a result was fired from the Lyric Opera of Chicago for missing her rehearsal dates for La bohème . Alagna was also engaged by the Metropolitan Opera at the last minute to cover for the indisposed Marco Berti  [ it ] in a 16 October 2007 performance of Aida. After the performance, the audience gave him a standing ovation. [12] The 15 December performance of Roméo et Juliette starring Alagna and Netrebko was broadcast by the Met into 447 theatres worldwide in high definition and seen by about 97,000 people. [13]

<i>Madama Butterfly</i> Opera by Giacomo Puccini

Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.

Rolando Villazón Mexican opera singer

Rolando Villazón Mauleón is a French/Mexican tenor. He now lives in France, and in 2007 he became a French citizen.

Anna Netrebko Russian-born Austrian operatic soprano

Anna Yuryevna Netrebko is a Russian operatic soprano. She holds dual Russian and Austrian citizenships and resides in Vienna, Austria, and in New York City. She is a frequent guest of the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Mariinsky Theatre, and Royal Opera House in London.

Alagna was scheduled to make his debut at the Bayreuth Festival on opening day, 25 July 2018, in the title role of a new production of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin . Alagna withdrew from the festival on 29 June 2018 citing failure to learn the role in time. [14]

Bayreuth Festival music festival

The Bayreuth Festival is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner are presented. Wagner himself conceived and promoted the idea of a special festival to showcase his own works, in particular his monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal.

Richard Wagner German composer

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Lohengrin character in German Arthurian literature, son of Parzival (Percival)

Lohengrin is a character in German Arthurian literature. The son of Parzival (Percival), he is a knight of the Holy Grail sent in a boat pulled by swans to rescue a maiden who can never ask his identity. His story, which first appears in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, is a version of the Knight of the Swan legend known from a variety of medieval sources. Wolfram's story was expanded in two later romances. Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin of 1848 is based upon the legend.


In recent years, Alagna has been an advocate of restoring to prominence neglected French operas – Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac , Massenet's Le jongleur de Notre-Dame , Lalo's Fiesque , and new works – Vladimir Cosma's Marius et Fanny and his brother David Alagna's Le dernier jour d'un condamné. He has also recorded light music with an homage album to Luis Mariano, Sicilien, and Pasión.

Personal life

Alagna's first wife, Florence Lancien, died of a brain tumour in 1994; they had one daughter, Ornella, who was born in 1992. In 1996, he married Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu. [15] The couple announced a divorce in 2009, but had reunited by 2011. However, in January 2013, the couple mutually agreed on a formal divorce. [16] Alagna and the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak had begun a relationship, and their daughter, Malena, was born on 29 January 2014. [17] Alagna and Kurzak married in 2015. [18]

Alagna has worked together on several projects with his brothers Frédérico Alagna and the stage director and composer David Alagna. The three brothers recorded an album of light music, Serenades, and worked together on the younger brother David's opera based on Hugo's Last Day of a Condemned Man. Alagna has often sung Alfano's Cyrano opposite his sister-in-law Nathalie Manfrino as Roxane.

The government of France named Alagna a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2008.

Opera roles

Alfredo La traviata Verdi
Manrico Il trovatore Verdi
Don José Carmen Bizet
Rodolfo La bohème Puccini
Roméo Roméo et Juliette Gounod
Edgardo Lucia di Lammermoor Donizetti
Edgar Lucie de Lammermoor (French adaptation)Donizetti
Fritz L'amico Fritz Mascagni
Hoffmann Les Contes d'Hoffmann Offenbach
Mario Cavaradossi Tosca Puccini
MacDuff Macbeth Verdi
Nemorino L'elisir d'amore Donizetti
Paolo Francesca da Rimini Zandonai
Roberto Roberto Devereux Donizetti
Cyrano Cyrano de Bergerac Alfano
Don Carlos Don Carlos Verdi
Don CarloDon Carlo (Italian adaptation)Verdi
Werther Werther Massenet
Le Chevalier des Grieux Manon Massenet
Jean Le jongleur de Notre-Dame Massenet
Faust Faust Gounod
Ruggero La rondine Puccini
Orphée Orphée et Eurydice Gluck
Pinkerton Madama Butterfly Puccini
Turiddu Cavalleria rusticana Mascagni
Canio Pagliacci Leoncavallo
Duc de Mantoue Rigoletto Verdi
Fiesque Fiesque Lalo
Marius Marius et Fanny Cosma
Radamès Aida Verdi
Rodrigue Le Cid Massenet
Ulysse Pénélope Fauré
Enée Les Troyens Berlioz
Nadir Les pêcheurs de perles Bizet
Riccardo Un ballo in maschera Verdi
Calaf Turandot Puccini
Des Grieux Manon Lescaut Puccini
Samson Samson et Dalila Saint-Saëns
Otello Otello Verdi




1996Chants sacrés19
2001Puccini: Tosca Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna and Ruggero Raimondi 89
2002Donizetti: Lucie de Lammermoor Natalie Dessay, Roberto Alagna, Ludovic Tézier and Evelino Pidò 150
2003Bizet: Carmen Gheorghiu & Alagna59
2005Chante Luis Mariano14489
Viva Opéra!2943
2007Credo – Airs sacrés5618
2009Le jongleur de Notre-Dame19894
Sicilien – Live7256
2010Hommage à Luis Mariano – C'est magnifique!5327
Les stars du classique191
2012Pasión Live80
2014Little Italy71
Ma vie est un opéra5033
2016MalènaYvan Cassar, London Orchestra & Roberto Alagna47
2018Puccini in LoveRoberto Alagna / Aleksandra Kurzak 160


2003"Petit Papa Noël"91

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  1. "Roberto Alagna" by Amanda E. Fuller, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. R. Alagna, Je ne suis pas le fruit du hasard, Paris, Grasset, 2007, Chapter "Canonnier Alagna !", ISBN   978-2246685418.
  3. Clare Colvin (11 November 2012). "Roberto Alagna: I want to sing everything but there is no time". Daily Express. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  4. "Current Biography – Roberto Alagna". H.W. Wilson Company. 1997: 8.
  5. "Matinee Idol". The Metropolitan Opera News. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  6. Duffy, Martha; Denbigh, Dorrie (29 April 1996). "So Happy Together". Time. pp. 83–84. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  7. Aix-en-Provence Historical Society: Gabriel Dussurget
  8. Cummings, David M. (2003). International Who's Who In Classical Music 2003. London, England: Europa Publications. p. 9. ISBN   1-85743-174-X.
  9. Waleson, Heidi (18 November 1995). "Alagna Slated For Tenor Stardom". Billboard. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  10. Owen, Richard (12 December 2006). "Tenor who stormed off La Scala stage vows he will return". The Times. UK. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  11. "Booed tenor quits La Scala's Aida". BBC News Online. 11 December 2006. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  12. Deseret Morning News , 21 October 2007, page E9, Associated Press/Verena Dobnik, "Once-booed tenor wows the Met"
  13. "Metropolitan Opera's broadcast is a digital gift", Newport News Daily Press , 23 December 2007
  14. Brug, Manuel (30 June 2018). "Star-Tenor sagt "Lohengrin" ab – Text nicht gelernt". Welt (in German). Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  15. Fuller, Amanda E. "Alagna, Roberto, and Gheorghiu, Angela". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 3 July 2008.
  16. Harriet Alexander (2 July 2013). "Opera's most famous couple divorce: Angela Gheorghiu accuses Roberto Alagna of violence". Telegraph. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  17. Judith Hecht (20 September 2014). "Roberto Alagna: "Es ist schlecht, über jemanden zu urteilen"". Die Presse. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  18. Merrin Lazyan (14 February 2018). "A Powerful Elixir". wqxr blog. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  19. Robert Alagna Discographie