Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A Chat with Antonello Palombi
For tenor Antonello Palombi, returning to Seattle Opera always feels like a homecoming of sorts. And this trip is particularly special because it marks his role debut as Verdi’s heroic troubadour Manrico.
“I thought: ‘this is a role that has to be in my repertoire’…and where else could I do this if not in Seattle? A city I love a lot, a city that gave me my birth in the U.S., in a way,” he said, referring to his 2004 U.S. debut as Dick Johnson in Puccini’s Fanciulla del West at Seattle Opera.
Although this is his first Manrico (two previous engagements to sing Il Trovatore were canceled for various reasons), he has been working on the role for awhile—and that work doesn’t stop after opening night.
“For me, rehearsals are not finished after dress rehearsal,” he said. “I’m always researching, finding a way to do it better. Manrico’s not yet fully in Antonello because this is my first time performing it.”
Not only he is happy to finally be performing Manrico, but he’s enjoying the company as well. He’s reuniting with his Aida co-star Lisa Daltirus, and also Mary Elizabeth Williams, who he met earlier this season during Tosca at New Orleans Opera. “She’s a new friend to me,” he said of Williams. “She’s a great artist, being so young with such a great voice…and we have established a good relationship.” That rapport will surely be helpful when the pair heads to Atlanta for Aida after Trovatore closes.
Palombi loves his job, but one of the definite downsides is the constant absence from his family back in Italy. He’s grateful, however, that he can keep in touch with his wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 12, via the internet. “I can help my older daughter with her homework, I can see my family every day, and they don’t miss out on my presence,” he said.
Because the separation is difficult, Palombi appreciates the familiarity of Seattle.
A few days ago, he said he came out of McMenamin’s restaurant with his wife, Gabriella, and stopped to take in the scene. Seeing the Space Needle high above McCaw Hall, Palombi turned to Gabriella and said: “’You know, it’s strange, this city is always the same as when I go home,’” he recalled. “Seattle has a special place inside of me. Whenever I know that I have to go to Seattle, I say: ‘I’m going home’.”
Photos © Rozarii Lynch