Rochester, NY — Achilles may have been one of the greatest warriors in Greek mythology, but for tenor Robert Swensen, the character is one of great fortune. The internationally acclaimed award-winning singer and associate professor of voice at the Eastman School of Music makes his La Scala debut next month in Milan singing the leading tenor role of Achille in Christoph Willibald Gluck’s French opera Iphigénie en Aulide.
Under the direction of La Scala Music Director, Maestro Riccardo Muti, Swensen will be heard in his first assay of this role. “For any singer of classical music, the invitation to sing at the Teatro all Scala Milano can only be considered one of the great milestones of his or her career,” says Swensen. “To add the opportunity of collaborating with one of the musical titans of our age, Riccardo Muti, brings this experience to zenith status. I feel very, very fortunate.” Although extremely popular in its day, the 1774 French opera based on text by Euripedes about retribution and sacrifice is rarely performed.
Praised by The New York Times in 1999 as giving a performance “that was gripping and ultimately moving” in a production of Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, Swensen recently appeared in Oedipus Rex with Gerard Depardiu in Naples and Athens. A noted Mozart and bel-canto specialist, Mr. Swensen has appeared as guest artist with major opera companies including those of Stuttgart, Teatro La Fenice – Venice, Bayreuth, the Bavarian State Opera – Munich, the Berlin StateOpera, the Opera Comique – Paris, the Grande Theatre – Geneva, and the Vienna State Opera. He also has appeared in concert at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, the late baritone Hermann Prey’s Schubertiade in New York and Vienna, with the Bavarian State Radio Orchestra, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Cologne, Dresden, and Leipzig Symphony Orchestras. He made his Carnegie Hall debut as the protagonist in Boildieu’s La Dame Blanche opposite Renée Fleming with the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Swensen’s extensive discography soon will be expanded with the addition of a recording of the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with hornist and Eastman Professor Peter Kurau.
The production of Iphigenie en Aulide will open the La Scala 2002-2003 season on December 7 and runs through December 21, 2002.