Tenor Santiago Ballerini returns to Atlanta Opera for “Penzance”
“I was learning from scratch.” Ballerini explains. “I was a therapist. I played the piano, but I was not so familiar with opera. Something special happened to me. They did “Don Pasquale” and the tenor who sings Ernesto fell ill before the premiere. I had sung Ernesto in Argentina, so they asked me to participate.
It was an opportunity for Ballerini to show he had the talent to sing in a professional production. “They invited me to come back and sing”Daughter of the Regiment‘,” he says. “It’s so helpful when people trust you, especially someone like me who’s from another country.”
“The Pirates of Penzance” will be on view through January 30 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the opera house will offer a live streaming option for ticket holders who do not feel comfortable seeing the production in person. All ticket holders will receive an email 24 hours prior to the performance offering the stream link.
For live audiences, the opera will require proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 48 hours of the performance.
Additionally, the production will be filmed and offered in this format through the opera’s Spotlight Media later this year.
Since his time in the Atlanta Opera’s studio artist program, Ballerini has carved out a formidable international career as a specialist in the high-flying tenor roles of Italian bel canto. Ballerini is a regular visitor to the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro. He made his European debut at the Opéra National de Bordeaux and has performed at the Opéra Comique in Paris and in numerous theaters in North America, including the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto, the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Caramoor Festival in New York.
Ballerini’s therapeutic sense came in handy in her cleverly crafted vocal development. “I never sing what I want, I sing what my instrument tells me to sing,” he says. “You may have an instrument at 20, but at 40 your body has changed, your muscles have changed. I mostly sing high tenor bel canto now. My voice is moving to a heavier place, not getting fatter, but it’s getting more muscular, a little more muscular.
Impossible not to ask the tenor what it’s like to jump from the romantic bel canto repertoire to the joke of Gilbert and Sullivan. “It was really interesting when I got the proposal,” he says with a big laugh. “I speak English, but you will still hear my accent. But Frédéric is a pirate, and a pirate can come from anywhere.
For Ballerini, each role is an apprenticeship and with Frédéric, he takes a liking to playing in an opera close to the musical. “Musicals have a lot to teach me,” he says. “Orchestration allows you to use a lot of colors that you can’t do when you sing with an orchestra of 70 or 80 musicians. The character is fresh and the writing isn’t super high so I can have fun.
Those curious about Ballerini’s artistic soul can discover her debut album, “Per Lei” (“For Her”) on most major streaming platforms. Released in 2021, the album finds Ballerini in collaboration with pianist Natalia González Figueroa. This is a fascinating program of music by composers ranging from Liszt to Ariel Ramírez, with texts ranging from the production of Renaissance poet Petrarch to modern Argentine historian and lyricist Félix Luna – all focused on global struggle. for equality between women throughout history.
Ballerini said the album was inspired by the work he has done over the past four years with an orphanage for girls in the neighborhood where he was born. “I had the idea to record my first album to talk about the challenges girls were facing,” he says. “That’s why it’s called ‘for her’. It explores women’s rights and the women’s movement to find their equal place in the world. I’m so proud of it.
Ballerini is delighted to return to one of his formative artistic houses. “Atlanta was my first big adventure,” he says. “It was my debut so I always thought this stage was a good place to be. I really feel like every time I come back it’s a good thing. I like the city.
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