Vittorio Prato: To sing, you need a voice, but above all you need determination and a lot of temperament.

A well-known specialist of bel canto repertory, the baritone Vittorio Prato has sung the leading roles in operas by Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti, standing out internationally as one of the most interesting singers of his generation.
After graduating in piano and harpsicord in Conservatory of Bologna, he studied singing with Ivo Vinco, Luciano Pavarotti, Dmitry Vdovin and Sherman Lowe.
He attended the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro, where he performed in “Il viaggio a Reims” (Don Alvaro). He won the “Mattia Battistini International Competition” and “Sacred Music Competition”.
He has appeared in such prestigious opera houses as Staatsoper in Berlin, Liceu in Barcelona, Opéra de Lyon, Grand Théatre de Genève, Ncpa in Beijing, Théatre du Capitole in Toulouse, Théatre des Champs-Elysées and Opera Comique in Paris, La Monnaie in Bruxelles, Theater an der Wien, Opéra de Lausanne, Staatsoper Hamburg, Barbican in London, Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux, Metropolitan Theater in Tokyo, Teatro Municipal de Santiago in Chile, Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Opéra Royal in Liège, Theater of Basel, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Teatro Regio in Turin, Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Teatro Verdi in Trieste. He participated in Wexford, Montpellier, Beaune, Bad Kissingen, Bad Wildbad, Valle d’Itria and Pesaro Opera festivals.
He has performed with such conductors as Riccardo Muti, Daniel Oren, Fabio Luisi, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Donato Renzetti and he has worked with directors such as Pierluigi Pizzi, Yannis Kokkos, Antonio Latella, Stefano Vizioli.
In the baroque repertoire he collaborated with William Christie, Christophe Rousset, Christoper Hogwood, Ottavio Dantone, Alan Curtis, Andrea Marcon and Diego Fasolis.
His vast repertory spans from Monteverdi to the twentieth-century authors and includes: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Figaro), La Traviata (Germont), Don Giovanni (title role), Manon Lescaut (Lescaut), L’Elisir d’amore (Belcore), La Bohème (Marcello), La Cenerentola (Dandini), Linda di Chamounix (Antonio), La Favorita (Alfonso), Don Pasquale (Malatesta), Le nozze di Figaro (Conte) and Così fan tutte (Guglielmo), Werther (Albert), Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio and Il turco in Italia (Prosdocimo), Bellini’s Bianca e Gernando, Donizetti’s Betly, Mercadante’s I Briganti, Carafa’s I due Figaro, Pergolesi’s La Salustia, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Rameau’s Les Indes galantes, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Gluck’s Demofonte, Handel’s operas as Giulio Cesare, Ezio and Imeneo, Wolf-Ferrari’s Il segreto di Susanna, Montsalvatge’s Una Voce in off.
His concert repertory includes: Orff’s Carmina Burana, Faurè’s Requiem, Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, Haydn’s Il ritorno di Tobia, Rossini’s Le nozze di Teti e Peleo and Schumann’s Der Rose Pilgerfahrt, Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht, Händel’s Israel in Egypt.
His recordings includes “Il Bravo – belcanto arias for Tamburini” and “Tosti-Songs from far away” (CD/BOOK Illiria), Gluck’s “Demofonte” (CD Brilliant), Pergolesi’s “La Salustia” (DVD Arthaus Musik), Mercadante’s “I Briganti” and Bellini’s “Bianca e Gernando” (CD Naxos), Rameau’s “Les Indes Galantes” (DVD Alpha), Carafa’s “I due Figaro” (DVD Bongiovanni).

Hello, Vittorio! Thank you for accepting my invitation! Let’s start our virtual conversation!

People say that to approach opera singing, you should start with Belcanto. Since you are one of the top performers of this repertoire, what technical and musical advice would you give to the young singers who read our magazine?

Hello, Viviana! It is a pleasure for me to have a virtual chat with you too.

For most voices, bel canto can be the right nourishment for learning to sing, but I would not propose it as a one size fits all for everyone. There are voices of a certain weight that find great difficulty with arias that require instrumental playing or swirling agility. 

The art of bel canto singing synthesises elements of virtuosity with purity of the singing line, long phrases in which the beauty of the sound accompanies the expression of the soul, the music and the text serve to amaze. For a young person beginning the art of singing, it is very important to learn how to manage breath, to have the vocal registers and syllables in words homogeneous. In short, the sound must be as beautiful, satisfying and expressive as possible, and the technique must be at the service of the music and the words. Since bel canto is a style rooted in the Baroque, Handel’s arias, as well as those of Mozart, Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti, are the best test and the biggest gamble to become a good singer.

You graduated from Bologna Conservatory in piano and harpsichord. Do you think playing an instrument is an essential prerequisite for a performer? How did it help you on your way to studying singing?

I don’t think playing one or more instruments is essential for a career, but it certainly helps a lot when making music. It is hard to think of my life without music, as I have never been without it. When I have learnt a new language, I have always begun with grammar and rules, just as I do with music: to study a score, I always want to be aware of every beat, every pause and every inch of the composer’s thought. Studying harpsichord in particular pushed me towards the world of baroque singing. That was the starting point of my career, which led me to work with the greatest baroque conductors; my first experience in a main role was with Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, considered the first masterpiece in the history of melodrama. Was that a lucky coincidence?

Read the entire interview here, in the 4th/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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