The voice of Marcelo Alvarez, the internationally famed Argentine tenor, is both clear and liberating. Hearing him singing “Cielo e mar,” an aria from Ponchielli’s opera La Gioconda, one is instantly transported to the vast seas and skies of blue.
Alvarez, one of the most sought-after tenors in global stages such as New York Metropolitan and Teatro alla Scala, is putting on a show in South Korea for the first time. As his concert is slated to begin at 8 p.m. on Feb. 19 at Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall, The Dong-A Ilbo had an email interview with Alvarez, who is celebrating his 57th birthday on Feb. 27. - When you first debuted, you were known as a Lirico tenor, before venturing into the realm of a Lirico Spinto with a more weight in the voice. And now you are expanding your repertoire into Dramatico with your new “homme fatale” characters. You’re expanding your horizon continuously.
“I’ve always sung faithful to my own emotions, and the public has responded to it. Next year, I will be taking an even heavier role of Verdi’s Don Carlos. In the future, I would like to take the title role of Verdi’s Otello, which is like a symbol of Dramatico.”- You have a very interesting background. I’ve heard that you barely knew anything about opera before 30.
“When I was younger, I built furniture for a living, and I was deeply into Freddie Mercury’s music. I was a good singer, but I had no interest in opera. And one day, a famous tenor visited my hometown Cordoba, and I sang before him, where he recognized my potential. I sang military songs because I didn’t know any Italian song.”
After that, he had an audition before Giuseppe Di Stefano, the world-renowned Italian tenor who voluntarily opened the path for Alvarez. “He said I reminded him of his younger self," Alvarez said. "He told me I was musically intuitive.”
For his most favorite role, the Argentine tenor chose “Andrea Chenier,” Umberto Giordano’s opera that depicted the life of a French poet in times of revolution. For his Seoul concert, Alvarez will present more dramatic songs such as “Giuiletta, son io” from Zandonai’s Giuiletta e Romeo in addition to his staple repertoires such as Tosca’s “E lucevan le stele.”
“Zandonai’s aria reveals the intense pain that Romeo went through before his death,” Alvarez said. “I want to express his despair and screaming as is instead of emphasizing the song’s dramatic aspects.”
The accompaniment for the concert will be conducted by the Prime Philharmonic Orchestra led by Kamal Khan. Kang Hye-jung, a South Korean soprano, will stand on stage for the ensemble from Puccini’s “La Bohème.”