Roberto Alagna

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Roberto Alagna
Roberto Alagna in 2004
Born(1963-06-07) 7 June 1963 (age 51)
Clichy-sous-Bois, France
OccupationOpera singer (tenor)
Years active1988 – present
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Roberto Alagna
Roberto Alagna in 2004
Born(1963-06-07) 7 June 1963 (age 51)
Clichy-sous-Bois, France
OccupationOpera singer (tenor)
Years active1988 – present

Roberto Alagna (French pronunciation: ​[ʁɔ.bɛʁ.toɲa]; Italian pronunciation: [roˈbɛrto aˈlaɲɲa]) (born 7 June 1963) is a French tenor. He was born in Clichy-sous-Bois, Seine-Saint-Denis, France and obtained French citizenship at age 18, while also retaining his previous Italian citizenship.[1]

Early years[edit]

Alagna was born outside the city of Paris in 1963 to a family of Sicilian immigrants. As a teenager, the young Alagna began busking and singing pop in Parisian cabarets,[2] mostly for tips.[3] Influenced primarily by the films of Mario Lanza, but also from recordings of many historic tenors, he then switched to opera, but remained largely self-taught.[4][5] However, he was "discovered" by Gabriel Dussurget, the co-founder of the Aix-en-Provence Festival.[6]


After winning the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, an initiative backed by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, that started in Modena in 1988, Alagna made his professional debut as Alfredo Germont in La Traviata with the Glyndebourne touring company.[7] This led to many engagements throughout the smaller cities in France and Italy, mainly again as Alfredo, a role he would eventually sing over 150 times. His reputation grew and he was soon invited to sing at major theaters such as La Scala in 1990, Covent Garden in 1992 and the Metropolitan Opera as Rodolfo in 1996. His performances of Roméo in Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod at Covent Garden in 1994 (opposite Leontina Vaduva) catapulted him to international stardom.[8]

Alagna opened the 2006/07 season at La Scala on 7 December 2006 in the new production of Aïda by Franco Zeffirelli. During the second performance on 10 December, Alagna, whose opening performance was considered ill-at-ease, was booed and whistled from the loggione (the least expensive seats at the very back of La Scala), and he walked off the stage. The tenor's reaction to his public criticism was denounced as immature and unprofessional by La Scala management and Zeffirelli, who said, "A professional should never behave in this way. Alagna is too sensitive, it is too easy to hurt his feelings. He does not know how to act like a true star."[9] The role of Radames was taken over successfully for the rest of the performance by his understudy Antonello Palombi, who entered on stage wearing jeans and a black shirt.[10]

In 2007 while at the Metropolitan Opera singing the role of Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Alagna replaced the indisposed tenor Rolando Villazon as Romeo in Roméo et Juliette opposite soprano Anna Netrebko for two performances in September and two performances in December. His wife had flown to New York to be with him for the September engagements, and as a result was fired from the Lyric Opera of Chicago for missing her rehearsal dates for La Bohème. Alagna was also engaged by the Metropolitan Opera at the last minute to cover for the indisposed Marco Berti in a 16 October 2007 performance of Aida. After the performance, the audience gave him a standing ovation.[11] The 15 December performance of Roméo et Juliette starring Alagna and Netrebko was broadcast by the Met into 447 theaters worldwide in high definition and seen by about 97,000 people.[12] Controversy, however, continued to shadow his career. In September 2011, a disagreement with the veteran conductor Alain Lombard in rehearsals for Gounod's Faust forced the Paris Opéra to choose between conductor and star tenor. They chose Alagna and Lombard had to leave.[13]


In recent years, Alagna has been an advocate of restoring to prominence neglected French operas - Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, Massenet's Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame, Lalo's Fiesque, and new works - Vladimir Cosma's Marius et Fanny and his brother David Alagna's Le dernier jour d'un condamné. He has also recorded light music with an homage album to Luis Mariano, Sicilien, and Pasión.

Personal life[edit]

Alagna's first wife, Florence Lancien, died of a brain tumor in 1994; they had one daughter, Ornella, who was born in 1992. In 1996, he married Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu.[14] In January 2013, Gheorghiu announced that they had agreed to divorce.[15] In September 2013 it was announced that Alagna and the Polish soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak were expecting a baby.[16] Their daughter Malena was born on 29 January 2014.[17]

Alagna has worked together on several projects with his brothers Frédérico Alagna and the stage director and composer David Alagna. The three brothers recorded an album of light music, Serenades, and worked together on the younger brother David's opera based on Hugo's Last Day of a Condemned Man. Alagna has often sung Alfano's Cyrano opposite his sister-in-law Natalie Manfrino as Roxanne. The government of France named Alagna a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2008.

Opera roles[edit]

AlfredoLa traviataVerdi
ManricoLe trouvèreVerdi
Don JoséCarmenBizet
RodolfoLa bohèmePuccini
RoméoRoméo et JulietteGounod
EdgardoLucia di LammermoorDonizetti
EdgarLucie de Lammermoor (French adaptation)Donizetti
FritzL'amico FritzMascagni
HoffmanLes Contes d'HoffmanOffenbach
Mario CavaradossiToscaPuccini
NemorinoL'elisir d'amoreDonizetti
PaoloFrancesca da RiminiZandonai
RobertoRoberto DevereuxDonizetti
CyranoCyrano de BergeracAlfano
Don CarlosDon CarlosVerdi
Don CarloDon Carlo (Italian adaptation)Verdi
Le Chevalier des GrieuxManonMassenet
JeanLe jongleur de Notre-DameMassenet
HoffmannLes contes d'HoffmannOffenbach
RuggeroLa rondinePuccini
OrphéeOrphée et EurydiceGluck
PinkertonMadama ButterflyPuccini
TuridduCavalleria rusticanaMascagni
Duc de MantoueRigolettoVerdi
MariusMarius et FannyCosma
RodrigueLe CidMassenet
EnéeLes TroyensBerlioz
NadirLes pêcheurs de perlesBizet
RiccardoUn ballo in mascheraVerdi



1996Chants sacrés19
2001Puccini: ToscaAngela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna and Ruggero Raimondi89
2002Donizetti: Lucie de LammermoorNatalie Dessay, Roberto Alagna, Ludovic Tézier and Evelino Pidò150
2003Bizet: CarmenGheorghiu & Alagna59
2005Chante Luis Mariano14489
Viva Opéra!2943
2007Credo - Airs sacrés5618
2009Le jongleur de Notre-Dame19894
Sicilien - Live7256
2010Hommage à Luis Mariano - C'est magnifique!5327
Les stars du classique191
2012Pasión Live80
2014Little Italy71
Ma vie est un opéra5033


2003"Petit Papa Noël"91


  1. ^ R. Alagna, Je ne suis pas le fruit du hasard, Paris, Grasset, 2007, Chapter "Canonnier Alagna !", ISBN 978-2246685418.
  2. ^ 12 December 2011 (2011-12-12). "How Roberto Alagna learned to sing in bars". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  3. ^ H.W. Wilson Company (1997). "Current Biography". H.W. Wilson Company. p. 8.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  4. ^ "Matinee Idol". The Metropolitan Opera News. Retrieved 3 July 2008. 
  5. ^ Duffy, Martha; Denbigh, Dorrie (29 April 1996). "So Happy Together". Time. pp. 83–84. Retrieved 3 July 2008. 
  6. ^ Aix-en-Provence Historical Society: Gabriel Dussurget
  7. ^ Cummings, David M. (2003). International Who's Who In Classical Music 2003. London, England: Europa Publications. p. 9. ISBN 1-85743-174-X. 
  8. ^ Waleson, Heidi (18 November 1995). "Alagna Slated For Tenor Stardom". Billboard. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 3 July 2008. 
  9. ^ Owen, Richard (12 December 2006). "Tenor who stormed off La Scala stage vows he will return". The Times (UK). Retrieved 3 July 2008. 
  10. ^ "Booed tenor quits La Scala's Aida". BBC News Online. 11 December 2006. Retrieved 3 July 2008. 
  11. ^ Deseret Morning News, 21 October 2007, page E9, Associated Press/Verena Dobnik, "Once-booed tenor wows the Met"
  12. ^ "Metropolitan Opera's broadcast is a digital gift." Newport News Daily Press, 23 December 2007 [1]
  13. ^ 16 September 2011 (2011-09-16). "Tenor kicks conductor out of Paris – so what else is new? (update)". Retrieved 2012-04-30. 
  14. ^ Fuller, Amanda E. "Alagna, Roberto, and Gheorghiu, Angela". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 3 July 2008. 
  15. ^ Eden, Richard. (6 January 2013). "Opera’s Posh & Becks, Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, bow out". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  16. ^ Associated Press (30 September 2013). "Tenor Roberto Alagna and soprano Aleksandra Kurzak having a baby; she drops out of 'Rigoletto'". Minnesota Star Tribune. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  17. ^ Opéra national de Paris (30 January 2013). "L'Opéra national de Paris félicite Roberto Alagna pour la naissance de sa fille Malena!" (French)

External links[edit]