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Rosenblatt Recitals

Dear subscriber,

Ahead of his recital on Monday 18 March at Wigmore Hall, Italian baritone Damiano Salerno kindly took the time to answer a few questions. Read on to find out what Damiano loves about London; why he waited 20 years to debut Rigoletto; and why sea urchins occupy a special place in his heart…!

In conversation with... Damiano Salerno

Damiano Salerno

In 2011 you garnered great critical acclaim for your performances in the title role of Verdi’s Rigoletto, including here in London. Of all the roles you have sung so far in your career, which one is your favourite and why?

I have sung several roles - Figaro, Marcello, Germont, Miller, Count di Luna, to name a few - but my favourite role is, above all, Rigoletto. When I started to study singing I remember my teacher, Mrs. Licciardello, said to me: “Don't forget, my dear, you have a valuable baritone voice. Take care of it! One day you will sing ‘Rigoletto’, which seems written for your voice. But only try singing this role after studying no less than 10 years of vocal technique and after spending 10 years on stage.” And so it was. I debuted Rigoletto after 10 years of vocal technique studies and 10 additional years of staging. I decided to wait and study for 20 years before performing it. Rigoletto is a very complex role, not only vocally but also from the interpretative point of view. Therefore it requires a personal and artistic maturity to better express the various psychological dimensions Verdi's masterpiece brought to life through the many moods of the character. Rigoletto is the dream role of all baritones. A baritone cannot be considered fully Verdian if he does not perform Rigoletto.


Is there another Baritone or opera singer whom you particularly admire?

I love Ettore Bastianini (I have almost all of his recordings); Gino Bechi; Matteo Manuguerra and Tito Gobbi. I am also a fan of Pavarotti, Di Stefano and Maria Callas. My favourite conductors are Tullio Serafin and Antonio Pappano. Last season, during my stay in London while performing Rigoletto at Grange Park, I often went to the Royal Opera House to listen to the Opera conducted by Mº Pappano. I got bewitched with the wonderful acoustics of the hall, the excellent sound of the orchestra and Maestro Pappano’s magnificent conduction. I was especially moved after witnessing how Mº Pappano conducted Werther, Tosca and, above all, Macbeth. Since then, I have dreamt of being conducted by him both at the ROH and the MET.


If you weren’t an opera singer, what would you be?

Either a cook or a photographer. I love cooking fish. I was born in Syracuse, Sicily, a coastal town. My hobbies are fishing and free diving, and my dad gave me his love for tasting seafood dishes. Photography is another of my passions.


So you enjoy cooking! What is your favourite dish?

The list may be too long ... but, in particular, I love spaghetti with sea urchins and grilled fish. Between one production and another, I always try to spend some days in Sicily with my wife, who is especially close to me. She helps me a lot when I study an opera and, when I am rehearsing on stage, she tells me how to improve the role that I'm singing to do my best. I am most relaxed in Sicily, after being in contact with the sea and eating and cooking fresh fish with my wife.


You have performed in great cities like Venice, Rome, Turin and London, but of the cities you are yet to perform in, where would you most like to sing and why?

I consider myself very lucky because through the opera I bring to the audience the depth of the many feelings of every character I perform. I really love singing, studying every character and performing it on stage. The theatre is a magical place where emotions are given birth to. The positive response of the audience is the ultimate reward for the many other sacrifices imposed by this work. In our modern life we often go too fast and lose the most intimate dimension of our life. We have forgotten being in contact with our feelings, so the theatre nowadays is an even more valuable asset than in the past, because it is able to excite and move, allowing each person to look inside themself. For this reason I think it is a privilege to bring opera to every theatre of the world.


Are you excited about making your London recital debut?

Of course, I'm very excited, happy and especially honoured to be giving this recital in London, and I heartily thank Ian Rosenblatt for this invitation. London is a city that I love so much and I wouldn’t rule out living here in the future. I love London, because culture is affordable for everyone. I was surprised that you could visit most of the museums for free (unfortunately, this is not the case in Italy) and there is always the chance to listen to very good music.


Following your Rosenblatt Recital, what projects have you got planned in the next couple of years?

I will soon debut I Puritani at Grange Park Opera. Next October I will debut I Masnadieri at Teatro Regio in Parma during the festival commemorating the bicentenary of Verdi's birth. Then I will be back to Switzerland with Rigoletto before returning to Grange Park to stage La Traviata.

Rosenblatt Recitals

Monday 18 March 2013, 7.30pm
Damiano Salerno Baritone

Giulio Zappa Pianist


Featuring songs and arias by Tosti, Verdi, Mascagni, Denza, Calì, Wolf-Ferrari, Bellini and Donizetti


Wigmore Hall

Tickets from £12

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