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He was most recently seen on US national television at the 1998 Richard Tucker Gala where he sang with other luminaries of the operatic stage. Fabio Armiliato. Not a household name, YET - like the other Italians Pavarotti (or Bocelli of late), but he's getting there. In the US, he is perhaps best known to the audience of the Metropolitan Opera where he has been singing since his debut in 1993 as Manrico in Verdi's Il Trovatore.

A Verdian tenor...
Often cast in dramatic Verdian roles, he appeared as Radames at the Met's Aida in 1998-99 season. And he is building quite a repertory: Don Carlo in the 1997-98 season, Cavaradossi in the Met's Japan Tour production of Tosca in 1997, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, Loris in Fedora and Adorno in Simon Bocanegra - all of which come to 39 Met performances in 5 years - and you will have to agree that he is on to a formidable international career.

Ah, but that's not all - there's also Rodolfo in La Boheme, Ernani, Pollione in Norma, Alfredo in La Traviata, Don Jose in Carmen, Gustavo in Un Ballo in Maschera, Andrea Chernier, Edgardo in Lucia di Lamermoor, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut - roles for which he has received critical acclaim both for his theatrical skills and his bright tenor voice which has been described as a "convincing, trim, piercing voice that comes at you like an arrow."

... who has the world for his stage
And his world is definitely larger than the Met stage. In North America, he has performed in other major houses: at the Pittsburgh Opera , L'Opera de Montreal , San Francisco Opera and Detroit Opera in the last two seasons; the previous years' venues have included New York City Opera, Opera Pacific, Houston Grand Opera, Palm Beach Opera, New Jersey State Opera, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. And needless to say, he has made numerous appearances in the great European opera houses - in his native Italy of course (Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Parma, Rome) as well as in Berlin, Bonn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Basel, Montpellier, Paris, Nice and Lyons. He has also taken his acts to South America - in Caracas, Venezuela and at the Teatro Colon in Argentina. Today he has a solo CD, Ten Years on Stage, a live recording of arias from his performance all over the world. His other CDs include the first commercial recording of Amica, a rare opera by Pietro Mascagni, in which he sings the role of Giorgio and a live recording of Giordano's La cena delle beffe in which he sings Gianetto.

Quite impressive for a 41-year old tenor, especially someone who is considered a "late bloomer". He was already in his late 20s when he made his professional debut in 1986 as Licinjo in La vestale after winning First Prize in the Tito Schipa competition. But he hasn't looked back since. Then in 1995 he made the headlines because of an unfortunate stage accident. It happened in an open-air production of Tosca in Naples. The last scene, in which Cavaradossi was to die at the executioners' bullets and he, Fabio, of course was to feign death. This time he got the scare of his life. For some reason, the firearms misfired and some bullets hit him in the right leg. The injury put him out of commission for several long months! It was a shot heard round the world. For a while he could not talk about it, but he eventually came out of it an eloquent advocate of stage safety

Could a real-life tenor also be a techie?
Yes, if you're Fabio Armiliato! In Internet circles, he is known as the Cybertenor. Not without reason. He is perhaps the only opera singer who designs and maintains his own website! He was but a little boy when he got his first computer - a Commodore VIC-20 and he's been hooked ever since. Not surprisingly he is very comfortable doing an interview by email - which was how FanFaire caught up with him in late 1998, about the time he was singing Radames at the Met. We began by asking him to give a chronology of what has certainly become a signature role.

(Click HERE to visit his website.)

Where and when did you sing your first Radames? And who were the conductors?
I sang my first AIDA in Belgrade in 1990. After that I sang it in Marseille (1991), Newark (1992), Caracas (1992), at the MET (1994), Berlin (1995-96-97-98), San Francisco (1997), Detroit (1997). The conductors: A. Silipigni, T. Alcantara, J. Fiore, S. Soltez, G. Navarro, D. Runnicles, and S. Mercurio.

What advice can you give a young singer who is just starting a career?
To a young singer I 'd suggest:
* Never stop singing.
* Develop a solid voice technique.
* As the repertoire is also very important, NEVER sing something in which you have to spend 100% of your voice and energy; NEVER sing on the border line; and NEVER be ashamed to say "NO" to a wrong proposition: it can be very difficult but a good career can better develop by saying an important "NO" sometimes than by saying "YES" all the time.

Is it important for a successful tenor like you to become a role model to young singers, even to little kids?
Being a model means you're doing something special .... something people like. I remember when I was a kid I loved Beniamino Gigli's voice because through his voice I felt a a lot of emotion and I began to understand how very important BEAUTY is in life.....he was always a model for me. Yes, I'd like to be a role model, if only to teach the young generation to respect the beautiful things in life.

When did you start music lessons? Who were your early teachers?
I started studies at the Conservatory in Genoa when I was eighteen. After graduating I looked for a good teacher because I didn't feel I learned enough at school. I had masterclasses with Mo. Campogalliani, Magda Olivero, Franco Corelli. And even now I continue to study my voice and to discuss voice technique with colleagues, teachers, doctors, phoneticians etc.

You have a fast rising career in opera. In what direction do you want to take it in the next 10 or more years? (Yes, even 5 years is a long time in opera.)
My goal is to be able to sing better and better - only through the study and the development of the singing technique can a singer attain a good position and win respect and consideration in the opera world. And to be able to KEEP that respect through the years, that's the most important !

Are there other members of your family aside from you and your brother Marco (the conductor of opera), who sing or play a musical instrument?
No, and I don't think there have been professional musicians in our family for at least four generations.

But there will be more on Fabio and his brother in the future, so keep tuning in.... as FanFaire continues its conversation with Fabio Armiliato.

Photo courtesy of H.H. Breslin, Inc.
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