AZO Cast Members & Creatives
American tenor Matthew Polenzani is one of the most gifted and distinguished lyric tenors of his generation. His elegant musicianship, innate sense of style, dramatic commitment, and timeless artistry have established his continued presence at leading operatic, concert, and recital venues worldwide.
The 2018/19 season includes a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago in his signature title role of Mozart’s Idomeneo, previously praised by The New York Times for his “poignant, gripping performance.” He will sing Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème at the Teatro Massimo di Palermo. Polenzani then travels to New York City for his role debut as Vaudémont in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, as well as the title role of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito at The Metropolitan Opera. Following both engagements, he travels to the San Francisco Opera for his role debut as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen. Concert appearances next season include a performance of Verdi’s Requiem with the Orchestre Metropolitain Montréal, a concert series with the New World Symphony, a recital at Carnegie Hall with his longtime colleague, pianist Julius Drake, and “An Evening with Matthew Polenzani” concert gala for Palm Beach Opera.
In his triumphant 2017/18 season, Polenzani returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in two of his signature roles – the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles. His reprisal of Nemorino in Donizetti’s Elixir of Love at The Metropolitan Opera was praised by The New York Times for his “pliant strength and clarion tone” and was broadcast on PBS and The Met: Live in HD. Polenzani traveled to Opernhaus Zürich for his role debut as Rodolfo in Verdi’s Luisa Miller and to the Bayerische Staatsoper as Fernand in Donizetti’s La Favorite, both receiving rave reviews. He ended his operatic season singing Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Royal Opera House, heralded for his “pleasant lilt and clear timbre” (Bachtrack). Notable highlights from his concert appearances include his performance as the tenor soloist in Haydn’s Creation with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival and his “A Night at the Opera” concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
In the 2016/17 season, Polenzani starred as an “exquisite” (Opera News) Fernand in a new production of Donizetti’s La Favorite at the Bayerische Staatsoper, which is now available for purchase on DVD. He also sang Rodolfo and Tamino in the revivals of La Bohème and The Magic Flute in Munich. He made his greatly anticipated return to The Metropolitan Opera stage to star in three productions: Idomeneo (title role), Der Rosenkavalier (The Italian Singer) which was also featured in a Live in HD broadcast, and Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio). He sang Tamino in The Magic Flute and was a featured soloist in the “Chicago Voices” Gala Concert for his hometown company, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and performed in concert with the New York Philharmonic, singing Händel’s Messiah, as well as Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn at Carnegie Hall in New York.
In the 2015/16 season, Mr. Polenzani was Don Ottavio at the Opéra National de Paris in Michael Haneke’s acclaimed staging of Don Giovanni. He sang Werther at the Bayerische Staatsoper and at the Wiener Staatsoper, and he debuted at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona singing Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème. His role debuts at The Metropolitan Opera include Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles and the title role of Roberto Devereux, in a production by Sir David McVicar, with both operas being featured on the Met’s Live in HD series and subsequently released on DVD. He also essayed Die Schöne Müllerin in performance at Northwestern University. Concert appearances have included the Mostly Mozart Gala, a concert at the Ravinia Festival with pianist Kevin Murphy, and a Liederabend at Oper Frankfurt with pianist Julius Drake.
Career highlights from recent Metropolitan Opera seasons include the premieres of Bartlett Sher’s production of Elixir of Love, which opened the 2012 season, and Sir David McVicar’s production of Maria Stuarda (issued on DVD by Erato); Willy Decker’s production of La Traviata, Julie Taymor’s legendary staging of The Magic Flute (DVD available from The Metropolitan Opera), and revivals of The Tales of Hoffmann, Rigoletto, Don Pasquale (Deutsche Grammophon DVD release), Don Giovanni, Roméo et Juliette, The Barber of Seville, Così fan tutte, Falstaff, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (DVD available from Deutsche Grammophon), and L’Italiana in Algeri. To date, he has starred in more than 300 performances at The Met.
Following Polenzani’s debut as Gérald in Delibes’s Lakmé with Opéra National de Bordeaux in France in 1998, appearances at major European theaters included productions of Don Pasquale and La Traviata at the Teatro Comunale in Florence, the Aix-en-Provence Festival (DVD available on Bel Air Classiques) and on a tour of Japan with Teatro Regio Torino; La Traviata at the Opernhaus Zurich; I Capuleti e I Montecchi at the Paris Opera; Elixir of Love and The Magic Flute at the Bayerische Staatsoper; Elixir of Love at the Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro San Carlo, and Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; Così fan tutte and Idomeneo at Covent Garden with Sir Colin Davis and in Paris with Philippe Jordan; Lucia di Lammermoor in Paris, Vienna, and Frankfurt; La Damnation de Faust at Frankfurt Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin; Manon in London and on a tour of Japan with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Idomeneo in Torino with Gianandrea Noseda; Manon with Fabio Luisi and La Traviata at La Scala; Rigoletto at the Wiener Staatsoper, conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos, and Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival (DVD available on EuroArts).
Polenzani is constantly in demand for concert engagements with the world’s most influential conductors, including Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Frizza, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Louis Langrée, Jesús López-Cobos, Riccardo Muti, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Simon Rattle, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Jeffrey Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, David Zinman, Riccardo Chailly, and Daniel Harding. He frequently performs with premiere ensembles in the United States and Europe, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Orchestra del Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National de France, and the Münchner Philharmoniker.
In recital, Polenzani has appeared in numerous venues across America with pianist Julius Drake, and at London’s Wigmore Hall (available on CD from the Wigmore Hall label). He has also appeared with noted pianist Richard Goode in a presentation of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Vanished at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, and in recital at the Verbier Festival with pianist Roger Vignoles (commercially available on CD from VAI). Polenzani was honored to have sung on all three stages of Carnegie Hall in one season: in concert with the MET Chamber Ensemble at Zankel Hall, a solo recital in Weill Hall, and in a Schubert Liederabend on the stage of Isaac Stern Auditorium.
Polenzani was the recipient of the 2004 Richard Tucker Award, The Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award, and a 2017 Opera News Award. An avid golfer, he makes his home in suburban New York with his wife, mezzo-soprano Rosa Maria Pascarella, and their three sons.