Monday, December 16, 2013

ARTISTS CORNER: Bartitone Marco Nisticò

Baritone Marco Nistico

ARTISTS CORNER:  Italian born baritone Marco Nisticò's impressive combination of beautiful tone, exquisite artistry, and superior stagecraft has delighted audiences throughout North America, South America, and Europe. In 2013-14 he returned again to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for the premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys and sings Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore with Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome. He also returns to Sarasota Opera this winter to reprise the role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville, a role he sang with Sarasota Opera in 2008.  

Q. Where are you originally from and where do you base yourself out of today?
A. I am from Naples, Italy. I live in New York City, on the Upper West Side. One block from Maestro DeRenzi, which is very good, because he has a nice espresso machine and gives me coffee from time to time… 

Q. Why Opera?  What drew you to become a singer? 
A. My father is a singer and a voice teacher.  He’s my voice teacher in fact. I was born into this.
I heard opera every day, from my father’s students at home and attending his performances. When I was growing up, opera was ubiquitous in Italy, everybody would know opera tunes and in elementary school we would learn to play “Va Pensiero” from Nabucco, on our flutes (I was not very good at it).  However, that trend was already changing. Pop music was growing and things changed dramatically. Now most people know that Italy is the birthplace of opera, but never go to a show.

Marco Nistico as Dulcamara in
L'elisir d'amore in Bregenz
Q. What singing did you do as a teenager?
A. I don't know. It just happened.  As a teen I hated opera and did not want to sing.  However, I think I was kind of "destined" to fall into it. One day I asked my dad to help me sing a song I was learning a bit better (for a university assignment I was doing for Sorbonne in Paris).  After that, I was stuck...

Q. What are you looking forward to most about performing the role of Figaro in this season’s production of The Barber of Seville?
A. Figaro is one of my favorite roles. One of the first roles I ever sang. I have sung Figaro in at least 6 different productions and many performances. There have been some in Europe (Wexford in Ireland, Holland, Bulgaria, and Bologna in Italy), Mexico (Guadalajara and San Luis Potosì) as well as here in the United States (Toledo, OH, Opera Festival of New Jersey, and, of course, Sarasota Opera).  I love the free spirit of the character and the music goes perfectly with it.

Q. What is your process for preparing a role for performance?
A. I read the libretto and try to analyze the poetic aspect of the words. I then go to the music and sing it as much as possible, by myself and then with a pianist. Anyway, Figaro, it’s a role I have done many times.

Q. What do you want the audience to know about your character?  What do you find most challenging about this role?
A. Figaro is the smartest guy in the room (and I say “guy” because Rosina is at least as smart). He is also a revolutionary, since he’s a servant who always wins against his masters. What is challenging about the role of Figaro is the fact that it has been sung by all the great baritones of the past and there are some inevitable comparisons. However, I really enjoy being this character.

Marco Nistico as Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte at the Teatro Regio di Torino
Q. You have been a steady presence at Sarasota Opera for several seasons.  You must enjoy singing here.  What do you think makes Sarasota Opera so special that people return season after season?
A. To me what is really special about Sarasota Opera is the emphasis on doing things in the proper style, the importance of language, the care we must take on the connection between words and music, the highly professional production values. It is the fact that serving the composer is the most important thing. It’s the long rehearsal period that allows all of us the time to really explore the characters and their music. And it’s Lido Beach… yeah, that one too.

Marco Nistico as Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte 
at the Teatro Regio di Torino
Q. You have performed all over the world.  Do you find audiences behave differently in all the different countries you perform in?
A. Perhaps… some audiences are more responsive than others. Some like to let you know clearly how they feel and if they like what you do. Some are more quiet during the show, but very enthusiastic at the end. In South Korea we had to go to the hall of the theater right after the show, in costume, and sign autographs for at least an hour. Everybody wanted their kids to take a picture with us… Anyway, I like every kind of audience. Without them, there would be no show. 

Q. Thus far, what is the most bizarre experience you have had during a rehearsal?  During a performance?
A. Maybe this one: During a performance of The Barber of Seville, the orchestra did not come in and I had to sing a cappella a good part of my duet with Rosina. At the moment it was not “fun”, but now it’s a good story to tell. And I will never forget my Rosina’s face, looking at me as to say: “good luck with that, buddy”.

Marco Nistico as Rigoletto
at Sarasota Opera

Q. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?  Performance superstitions?  Good luck charms?  If yes, why?
A. Not really. Just relax during the day and then warm up before performance. I tend to eat only chicken and rice the day of a performance and bring at least a banana in my dressing room.

Q. How do you relax in between performances?  What hobbies do you enjoy at home and “on the road”?
A. I enjoy watching Netflix. I also go to the gym and spend time with friends.

Q. What music do you listen to when you are driving in the car or commuting around New York City?
A. I don’t own a car. The rare times I rent one I listen to NPR (talk). I do not listen to music while “commuting” around NYC. I want to be in touch with the people around me.

Q. How do you stay connected to family and friends when you are “on the road”?  Do you keep a blog?  Website? Facebook?  Twitter?
A. I really do not like personal blogs. I use Facebook, emails, Skype and the phone to talk to family and friends. I talk with Marina, my wife, several times a day on the phone. Blogs?? Unless you are a professional writer, That’s pure vanity…

Marco Nistico (right) as Figaro in Sarasota Opera's 2008 production of The Barber of Seville

Don't miss Marco Nisticò's return to Sarasota Opera as the schemeful Figaro in The Barber of Seville opening February 15th and running for 9 performances through March 21st.  Tickets are available online at or by calling (941) 328-1300.  

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