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Vittorio Grigolo triumphs in Royal Opera House debut

“The birth of a star”
Evening Standard

“As house debuts go, it was little short of sensational”
The Independent

“The most sensational debut to be heard at Covent Garden for some time”
The Guardian

Vittorio Grigolo, exclusive Sony Classical artist, created a sensation this week with his keenly-anticipated debut as the Chevalier des Grieux in Laurent Pelly’s new production of Massenet’s Manon at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The young singer thrilled audiences and critics alike with his ardent and passionate singing, drawing comparisons with many of the historic first nights of great singers of the past.

Mr. Grigolo, regarded by many as the finest Italian tenor in a generation, more than lived up to his advance billing. Born in Arezzo, Tuscany, he was a soloist in the celebrated Sistine Chapel Choir as a child and attracted the praise of the great Pavarotti himself when, at age 13, he starred along side him as the Pastorello in Tosca at the Rome Opera. He went on to be the youngest tenor ever to debut at the legendary La Scala, Milan and has conquered many of the world’s great opera houses since, appearing with the finest artists and conductors of our day.

For his Royal Opera debut, his musical partners were the acclaimed Russian lyric soprano Anna Netrebko and Covent Garden Music director Antonio Pappano. The Chevalier des Grieux is one of the most challenging roles in the lyric tenor repertory, requiring singing of exquisite tenderness and explosive dramatic intensity. The critics unanimously agreed the young singer passed all tests with flying colours and was worthy to take his place alongside the great interpreters of the part.

“Grigolo made a triumphant Covent Garden debut as Des Grieux. He balances Italianate ardour with style and intelligence…..and his good looks and energetic acting make him an appealing stage figure. A great operatic career lies in his sights……” The Daily Telegraph

“He’s got everything the role demands – a voice that flows, terrific looks, an instinctive sense of theatre. He’s entirely credible as a 20 year old uncontrollably in love and everything he does seems natural, from his impetuous first appearance in the Aimens courtyard, to his chilling shriek of despair at Manon’s death.” The Guardian

“In his Covent Garden debut, rising star Vittorio Grigolo wins the audience’s hearts with his good looks, ardent singing and an eager demeanour that takes on the full tragic dimension of Chevalier des Grieux’s predicament” The Stage

“More than matching Netrebko for passion and control was the Des Grieux of the young Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, making his debut at Covent Garden. The thunderous ovation he received at curtain call suggested that the audience sensed the birth of a star.” The Evening Standard

The Independent praised: “Vittorio Grigolo’s dashing and thrillingly sung Chevalier des Grieux, his seductive middle voice covered to beautiful effect in the many subito shadings in mezza voce”.

The Times remarked: “The voice was ablaze, mobile in dynamics like Des Grieux’s heart, able to soar and sob alike without the slightest strain. The house loved him.”

Die Welt wrote: “Die Überraschung ist freilich der Villazón-Ersatz Vittorio Grigolo. Der 33-jährige Italiener, der vor vier Jahren in England noch als “Pavarottino” den Opern-Crossoverpfad beschritt, hat sich via Zürich ins seriöse Fach entwickelt und kehrt jetzt als Sieger zum triumphalen Operndebüt heim. Sein Französisch ist sehr gut, er singt delikat, doch mit Kraft, gibt den virilen Macho, wälzt sich aber auch wohlig verletzlich im Priesterbett, als er von Manon in der Kirche verführt wird. Ein Testosterontenor mit weiblichen Seiten, das ist neu – und war Sony bereits einen Plattenvertrag wert.”

Opernglas wrote: “Mit Vittorio Grigolo war in dieser Neuproduktion auch der Des Grieux besonders attraktiv besetzt. Nicht nur optisch bildete er zusammen mit Anna Netrebko ein hinreißendes Paar, auch musikalisch bewegten sich die dunkel gefärbte Sopranstimme und der virile Tenor im Einklang. Grigolos in bester italienischer Gesangstradition stehende lyrische Tenorstimme weiß Leidenschaft zu vermitteln. Dieser Ausnahmestimme steht eine Farbpalette zur Verfügung, die an ein Naturwunder grenzt. Da ist nichts gedrückt, gedunkelt oder gemacht. Grigolo versteht es einfach, immer noch ein neues Schattierungsregister zu ziehen, um mit geschickten und hoch musikalischen Lösungen zu verzaubern. Zu Recht wurde er bei seinem Hausdebüt mit Ovationen geradezu überschüttet.”

Photo: © Royal Opera House / Bill Cooper