Federico Longhi: Being a teacher is a great responsibility, because you have in your hands not only a voice, but, above all, a person with emotion and sensitivity

Federico Longhi is one of the most important Italian baritones of his generation. He was born in Montjovet (Val d’Aosta), and there he moved his first steps into the music world, singing in the church choir and at home where his father and his grandfather were great opera lovers. Later he begun to study flute at the Aosta Music Institute, but singing remained one of his biggest passions and during a concert at the Institute the legendary baritone Giuseppe Valdengo (the favorite one of Arturo Toscanini) heard his voice and encouraged him to start to study singing. He studied under his guidance and in 1993 he sang his first concert alongside the great Valdengo, singing with him the duet between Ford and Falstaff. His professional stage debut was in 1995, when he sang for the first time one of his major roles, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. During his career he sang under the baton of the most prestigious conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Richard Bonynge, Daniel Oren, Marco Armiliato, Gianandrea Noseda, Andrea Battistoni and Daniele Rustioni, and with some of the most brilliant directors including Franco Zeffirelli, Hugo De Ana and Ettore Scola. He sang on the major opera stages around the world such as the Arena di Verona, Teatro Regio di Torino, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Royal Opera House Muscat, Bayerische Staatsoper and NCPA Beijing, and in the most important roles of the baritone repertoire: Rigoletto, Tonio in I Pagliacci, the title-role and Ford in Falstaff, Il Conte di Luna from Il Trovatore, Amonasro in Aida and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor. Not only he has two decades of experience on stage he is one of the most valuable vocal teachers and coaches.

We have met at Festival Verdi, such a courageous initiative of Teatro Regio di Parma, which truly brought hope & joy both for the artists & the public, and now we find ourselves again in an uncertain situation. As both a singer and a vocal coach, with a beautifully developed spiritual side, what do you think about it? Will the live performance ever again be what it was before all of this?

Summer was a happy break, but now we are again in a difficult situation, but my motto is always “avanti tutta!” (“full speed ahead!”), so we must continue to hope for a better future. We need art and beauty, they are essential for our lives, but our governments seem that they are not interested in it, they consider them just unnecessary… It’s so sad and It makes me feel powerless. We have studied for all our life, we have made many sacrifices for our vocation to art. What most people don’t understand is that this vocation is also a job, so we must have the insurance from the government that our category will be respected. Closing theatres is a dramatic thing, in all the most difficult periods of world history it almost never happened… but the most dramatic thing is the consideration that the government has towards theatres: as my friend Francesco Lodola wrote, they compared theatres and concert halls to bingo halls… It’s the failure of our society. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m still optimistic because if we look to the past we see that after each crisis there is a renaissance. I’m sure that after this period we’ll do our job with more awareness and passion and everything will be more beautiful. As a vocal coach, I would invite all the young singers to continue their improvement to be ready for this renaissance.

Read the entire interview here, in the 7th issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.


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