Meet The Artist
Victor Sgarbi – Duke of Nottingham
Victor plays the baritone role of the Duke of Nottingham in Opera Seria’s upcoming concert performances of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. We asked Victor some questions about his career and his character. Read on to find out more about the baritone’s interesting background!
What has been the greatest thrill in your career thus far? Greatest challenge?
It is hard to pick just one moment up from so many great stories. I guess I feel the thrill of performing every time I step on stage and I think that every opera has its own different unique challenge. I will pick the one that according to my mother (believe me she is a wise person and very impartial) was the highlight of my career, but I also think it was the greatest thrill and challenge I faced so far. Singing the Stravinsky, Les Noces on several occasions in Brazil in 2003 was a heavy duty task, the pressure was huge as I was quite an unexperienced singer (only 3 years down the road) and I had to perform alongside my teacher at the time, in the quartet, ahead of the most prestigious professional choir in Latin America. The result was incredible, the thrill was terrific, the TV and radio broadcasting were frightening, but in the end everything went right. It is good to keep a record of those performances because I can reevaluate and learn how much my voice has developed since, specially because I was a young singer then( that is 10 years ago ). Everyone that has heard Stravisnky Les Noces once before appreciates the difficulty of the piece: melodically, rhythmically, technically, everything is slightly chaotic in an organised manner. Everything gets even scarier when the conductor has her reading glasses broken immediately before the start of one of the shows. She comments she will conduct the piece by memory. That was scary.
Do you have any favourites? Composer? Opera? Role? Venue?
My favourites , you will find them bizarre, but I do have a taste for early music and early Operas, as much as I also find some romantic ones amazing. My favourite composer is Handel with some magnificent work written and performed by some of my favourite singers (Joyce DiDonato and Cecilia Bartoli). In the broader field of Opera, I chose 2 works to be on first place in my top 10 : La Boheme and Pagliacci are unbeatable for me. My preferred role would be Figaro from Il Barbiere with its very fun music to sing and my top venue would be the Barbican. Even though it is not an opera house the music made there is just stunning. But right, I think I must talk about opera houses, my favourite ones are the Opera de Paris and theTeatro Municipal de Sao Paulo.
What are your thoughts about your character in Roberto Devereux?
The Duke is an interesting character. He has got a very complex nature and a strong sense of values. Having said that, in Roberto Devereux, the Duke and his integrity are heavily tested by unforeseen situations of betrayal from everyone around him. It is hard to keep the sanity on that kind of situation. If I were him, I would have gone crazy, and that is basically what happens to the Duke of Nottingham towards the end of the opera. His controversial decisions are a result of the pressure and dilemmas which he is up against. The drama of the opera relies on inflicting the characters to the most extreme situations and observe their reactions according to the time in history and rank (upbringing) they have. Values are tested and shaken. The very negative reactions of the Duke towards the end of the opera are as strong as his commitments in the positive way in the beginning. One would expect that a noble man like the Duke would be as forgiving as a saint, but that doesn't happen. At that time in history, the examples given by the Queen to whom the Duke is a faithful adviser also provoked reactions that transformed him completely. If you watch the movie “The Duchess” you will find many similar situations where conventions shape the lives of human beings. It was a hard period of time when power, strength and pride were values to be protected at any cost, and lives were the currency to be paid.
What do you look forward to the most in being part of Roberto Devereux?
I always look forward to the opening night when I can feed from the energy of the audience. I enjoy learning if my character makes the audience angry, sad or to love him, to hate him, etc. I want to hear that they had a wonderful time going to the opera above all other things. The time that led to the opening night, the rehearsal period, is when I can experiment, get to know my colleagues, make mistakes, elaborate better music lines and thoughts. The better the rehearsal period the more exciting is the opening night.
Victor's first solo appearance as a singer was in Carmina Burana for an audience of 2000 people, still as a student of Classical Singing at the Universidade Tom Jobim in Sao Paulo, Brazil. After living a successful career as a Dentist, Victor joined the internationally awarded professional choir OSESP (Brazil) in 2002.
In 2005, Victor had his debut in Opera, singing the role of Schaunard at the Teatro Sao Pedro, in Sao Paulo. He has subsequently taken several roles in Brazil and later in the UK, including: Malatesta in “Don Pasquale”, Figaro in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” , Father Peter, in “Hansel and Gretel”; Mr Gobineau, in Menotti's “The Medium”; Maestro, in “Prima la Musica Poi le Parole” (Salieri) ; Schaunard, Marcello and Colline in "La Boheme"; Conte Almaviva in "The Marriage of Figaro"; Hymen, in Purcell's “The Fairy Queen”; Germont in Verdi's “La Traviata”; Belcore in "L'Elisir d'Amor"; Falstaff in Verdi's 'Falstaff ” .
He is described by critics as having a “restraint and truly well placed baritone voice” giving a “well developed performance and a convincing character” and “an opera singer to look
out for”. In 2011, after being awarded a scholarship he completed the Advanced Performers Opera Studio in London, where he studied with the most influential directors, coaches and singers in the UK.
Victor performs at the major concert halls and theatres in Brazil, including: Sala Sao Paulo, Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo, Memorial da America Latina, Teatro Sao Pedro, Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, and in London's Albert Hall, Barbican, St James Piccadilly, St Martin-in-the-Fields and St John's Smyth Square.
Roberto Devereux is being toured in London and the North West of England. Tickets are still available for all shows.
31st August :: St Clement’s Chorlton, Manchester 6th September :: The Crypt, St Andrew’s Holborn, London 12th September :: The Lantern Theatre, Liverpool 13th September :: Preston Minster
For more details, or to book tickets, please visit the website:
Victor Sgarbi, Baritone - Living in the UK since 2007