Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Chat with Patrick Carfizzi

Before we let our singers go away for a quick holiday break from rehearsal, we have time to check in with Bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi (left, in orange, with Burak Bilgili as Basilio). Carfizzi, who made his Seattle Opera debut in 2006 as Prison Warden Frank (aka Chevalier Chagrin) in Die Fledermaus, returned in 2009 as the stern Nourabad in The Pearl Fishers. In all of our upcoming performances of The Barber of Seville, he plays Dr. Bartolo.

Bartolo is older than the other characters in The Barber of Seville, yet you're the same age as most of your colleagues onstage. What is it like to portray someone significantly older than yourself?

Portraying a character older than myself is something I do quite often. As a singing actor there are many steps that I go through to prepare for the task of "aging," each more fun that the next. I am a kinesthetic learner and physicality is part of the foundation which helps and supports the musical gesture. With each new production of Barber that I do, I tend to find unique physical characteristics during the rehearsal process and performances which bring the character to life through a organic process. Certainly there is welcome influence and experience from past productions but each time I try to create a slightly or, in some cases, a vastly different Bartolo.

Exactly how do you describe your voice? Would you consider yourself a buffo bass?
No, I don't consider myself a Buffo, but rather a Bass-Baritone. While I do sing quite a bit of Buffo repertoire, many other types of roles also fit my voice.

Patrick Carfizzi with Adrian Rosas as the Sergeant (Alan Alabastro, photograph)

I’ve talked to several singers lately who have told me that they had jobs I never would’ve expected, before they ultimately pursued an opera career. What about yourself? Did you always know you wanted to be an opera singer?
I started out wanting to be a jazz pianist or a pediatrician, then I went to see my first opera and everything changed. I was " bit by the bug" at age 16 and I have rarely ever looked back. Singing was and is one of the few things that keeps me sane, though everyone's definition of sanity is different.

Seattle audiences may remember you most recently from your performance in our 2009 Pearl Fishers. What’s it like to return to Seattle, and do you have any plans--besides singing, of course!--for while you’re here?
Seattle is my second home, so coming back is extra special for me. I have plans to get to the mountains and finally get out to the Olympic Penisula this time around. There will also be several dinners at some of my favorite Seattle restaurants. I also do as much volunteer and educational work as much as I can in my free time.

Have you previously worked with anyone in this Barber cast? The other day, José Carbó (Figaro) mentioned the importance of camaraderie within a cast. Do you agree with him?
I have had the great joy of working with Larry, Kate, Burak, Sarah and Mo. Williamson prior to this production, and what a joy it is to share the stage with all of them together. I agree with José completely: in Barber, ensemble is an essential part of a successful performance. Only a week into rehearsal the energy of both casts is proving to be electric! I am very excited for what will be a great run.

Rehearsal of Act 1 finale: Burak Bilgili as Basilio, Hand of Maestro Dean Williamson, Patrick Carfizzi as Bartolo, David Adam Moore as Figaro, Nick Phan as Almaviva, arms of Kate Lindsey as Rosina touching him (Alan Alabastro, photograph)

Do singers spend any time getting to know each other outside of the rehearsal studio? Or is it all business?
It's all discipline! All the traveling we do for our work is made that much easier by spending time, and in some cases, developing strong friendships with our colleagues. Preservation is where discipline becomes essential, we all enjoy our time with each other but we all know that we need our rest as well. You just have to find the balance.


  1. allo, SeattleOpera fans!!
    Very informative interview!!
    Since this singer has done his role many times inb different productions, it will be very interesting to see what minor differences in his acting will show up as he interacts with different colleagues in the two casts; therefore, we must see both casts!! I certainly will!!
    Toi, toi, toi!!
    Win H.