Our 3rd Charming beginnings protagonist is the young & handsome baritone Francesco Cascione. In a conversation with Viviana Nebuloni, Francesco talked about the moment he discovered his bond with opera, about his relationship with his singing teacher and with his colleagues and, of course, about the current and the future situation of the theaters in Italy.
In 2014 he starts studying singing with mezzo-soprano Bianca Maria Casoni, but he is also selected in Barcelona to perfect his technique by the legendary Montserrat Caballé. He made his debut at the age of 21 with Orfeo by Jacques Offenbach. In July 2018, after his participation in the prestigious “Spiros Argiris” competition, he was selected to be the protagonist in Gaetano Donizetti’s Rita. In August 2018 he made his debut at the Ancient Theater of Taormina. In October 2018 he also made his debut at the Municipal Theater of Piacenza with the world premiere of Cappuccetto Rosso by Stefano Guagnini as the Wolf and, in December, he participated at the inauguration of the season in La Traviata, under the artistic direction of Leo Nucci. In February 2019 he was Escamillo in Carmen, by Georges Bizet, at the Municipal Theater of Carpi and he also sang the role of Marchese in La Traviata in Rimini. In May 2019 he debuted the role of Don Giovanni for “Matera Capital of Culture”: this role will be sung by Francesco again in Matera and Lecce in October/November 2019. In December 2019 he will inaugurate the 2019/2020 season at the Municipal Theatre of Piacenza as Marcello in La Bohème. He debuted Fiorello’s role in Il barbiere di Siviglia for the inauguration of the 2020/21 season at the Municipal Theatre of Piacenza. His debuts as Shaunard in La Bohème and Belcore in L’Elisir d’amore are expected by the end of the year.
Firstly, I would like to introduce you to our readers: when did you discover your bond with opera?
It all started quite randomly… one day my father was in the living room listening to a Freddie Mercury CD, when at some point I hear a voice that literally leaves me speechless. It was Montserrat Caballé in their famous duet “Barcelona”. I immediately asked my father about this extraordinary singer, but I was still not satisfied with the answers, so I went online and searched absolutely everything about her. So I owe my passion for opera to Mrs. Caballé. I later had the great privilege of seeing her privately during her last years of life and I discovered a generous and humble woman underneath her public figure. I still love her very much.
Who are you currently studying with? What does the word “balance” mean for you when it comes to the relationship with a singing teacher?
Maurizio Leoni, a person who made me feel comfortable since the first time I met him. Finding the right maestro is always very difficult; you have to have the right feeling. But most importantly, each maestro must be a psychologist: he has to be able to get inside his or her pupil’s head. If you achieve this so-called “balance” – as you call it – only then will you be on the “right path”.
During your opera studies, what was an especially significant experience that you look back on with nostalgia? Do you have any recommendations in particular for your younger colleagues that you learnt from that experience?
Without a doubt my debut as Don Giovanni in Mozart’s opera of the same name: the experience was important because it was the inaugural opera for “Matera world capital of culture 2019”, the audience was very international (when we could still travel, *sob) and I was very nervous. It was three weeks of intensive rehearsals, but in the end it was a triumph. What can I recommend? Even if the role is long as Don Giovanni’s, ALWAYS sing everything at ALL rehearsals! We singers often try to hold back, justifying it with the excuse that they are only rehearsals. On the contrary – and particularly if it’s one of your first experiences – it is useful to rehearse the part again and again, especially on stage… you can feel the difference immediately.
Read the entire interview & many other interesting articles here, in the one year anniversary issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.0