Meet the Artist: La Rondine’s Leonardo Capalbo
We’re excited to welcome back Italian-American tenor Leonardo Capalbo who will perform as Ruggero in Puccini’s La Rondine, beginning October 6 at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Saint Paul. Capalbo returns to Minnesota Opera after previously performing as Ben Marco in The Manchurian Candidate, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, and Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca. He recently sat down with us to discuss his role as Ruggero and why he’s interested in returning to the Twin Cities.
DESCRIBE RUGGERO IN 3 WORDS…
LC: Sincere, optimistic, naive.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF PERFORMING THIS ROLE?
LC: One of the absolutely joys of singing Ruggero is his gorgeous music. As one would expect, Puccini’s melodies in La Rondine are shockingly beautiful. Ruggero’s music is especially soothing for the voice, so it makes it a real pleasure to sing. The biggest challenge of Ruggero is that his initial introduction is very brief, so we don’t get to really know him until the second act. This makes his entrance aria so important. I hope to really reveal Ruggero’s essence in that moment, so the audience can’t wait to see more of him.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE IN MINNESOTA? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’RE DYING TO TRY?
LC: One of my favorite things about Minneapolis is all the fantastic restaurants. I can’t wait to get back to Bar La Grassa, The Smack Shack, and Freehouse.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST OR MOST SURPRISING THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU DURING A PERFORMANCE?
LC: During a performance of Un Ballo in Maschera at the Royal Swedish Opera I had a startling occurrence one evening. As if portraying Gustav III in Stockholm weren’t special enough, I performed the final aria from The Royal Box which is only used by the royal family to this day. I was given special permission to use it and it is always watched by security. One night, the introduction music to my piece began and as I entered I came across two masked intruders, lurking in the back corner of the box! I had no time to react and proceeded to sing. They whispered behind me, obscured from most of the public’s view, but visible to some. When I exited the box to head to the final scene to see my love and face my death, the mysterious perpetrators seemed to vanish. Security was unable to find them. Gustav III was killed at the Opera at the very masked ball the opera is based upon. Sometimes life really does imitate art.
WHAT DO YOU THINK AUDIENCES WOULD BE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT THE LIFE OF AN OPERA SINGER?
LC: I think people would be surprised to know just how little time I get to spend at home. In 2018, I got only a month at home, and next year I will have only three weeks!