• Interview with Leyla Martinucci - Maddalena in Rigoletto at Opera Carolina

    Opera Lively has attended and reviewed an extraordinary performance of Rigoletto at Opera Carolina in Charlotte, NC, USA. It's a must-see show; there are two more opportunities to see it on February 15 and 17, 2018; find a link to tickets on the press release page by clicking [here]. Read our review of the opening night [here], which includes many production pictures. Prior to the show we interviewed the three principal singers in the title role and the roles of Gilda and the Duke [read them (here)]. Upon attending the show in person, we were pleasantly surprised with the singer who did Maddalena, the charming and beautiful Italian mezzo-soprano Leyla Martinucci, who sang very well her part, including, being very audible during the famous quartet, which is not always the case in other renditions of this opera we've heard in person or in recordings. After the show when we went to meet the artists, we asked Leyla to also grant us an interview. She kindly accepted, resulting in this piece below. Enjoy!


    Artistic Biography

    At age 10, she sang at Teatro Politeama in Lecce, Italy as Oscar in 'Un Ballo in Maschera', and at the Sferisterio in the town of Macerata, Italy as Un pastorello in 'Tosca' - 2001.

    Fast forward several years later, and as an adult she first appeared as Euridice in 'Orfeo ed Euridice' at Teatro Politeama Greco in Lecce, Italy - March 2014

    Then a few years later things picked up fast:

    Concert with the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra at Quintal Concert Hall, China - March 2015

    Concert at the Duomo di Carrara, Italy with Aprile Millo and Gregory Kunde - July 2015

    Concert in Viterbo, Italy for the Tuscia Opera Festival - July 2015

    Soloist in Pergolesi's 'Stabat Mater' at the Festival Barocco di Viterbo, Italy, 43rd edition - August 2015

    Flora in 'La Traviata' at Miami Lyric Opera, USA - November 2015

    Concert in Augusta, Italy with Marcello Giordani and Friends - December 2015

    Rosina in 'Il barbiere di Siviglia' at Teatro Comunale Vittorio Emanuele in Noto, Italy - January 2016

    Leyla as Rosina in Trieste in 2016

    Rosina in 'Il barbiere di Siviglia' at Teatro Città della Notte in Augusta, Italy - January 2016

    Zia Principessa in 'Suor Angelica' at Staplin Performing Arts Center in Des Moines, Indiana, USA - March 2016

    Soloist at the Veneto Festival in Padova, Italy with I Solisti Veneti in Mozart's 'Requiem' and Albinoni's 'Magnificat' - May 2016

    Rosina in 'Il barbiere di Siviglia' at Teatro Nuovo Giovanni in Udine, Italy, July 2016

    Leyla as Rosina in Trieste in 2016

    Rosina in 'Il barbiere di Siviglia" in the Piccolo Festival del Friuli Venezia Giulia- Castel San Giusto in Trieste, Italy - July 2016

    La Gloria in the world premiere of Vivaldi's 'La Gloria e Imeneo' at Villa Manin in Udine, Italy with La Fenice Orchestra - July 2016

    Lola in 'Cavalleria Rusticana' at Miami Lyric Opera, USA - Oct 2016

    Maestra delle Novizie in 'Suor Angelica' at Miami Lyric Opera, USA - Oct 2016

    Soloist in Grande Messa in Do Minore by Mozart with I Solisti Veneti for the opening night of the Veneto Festival in Padova, Italy - May 2017

    Carmen in 'Carmen' at the Slezské Divadlo (Silesian Theater) in Opava, Czech Republic - May 2017

    La Gloria in 'La Gloria e Imeneo' - Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza, Italy with I Solisti Veneti - June 2017

    Rosina in 'Il barbiere di Siviglia' at Miami Lyric Opera, USA - Aug 2017

    Maddalena in 'Rigoletto' at Opera Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA - October 2017

    Concert at Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny, Switzerland - November 2017

    Maddalena in 'Rigoletto' at Toledo Opera, Ohio, USA - January 2018

    Currently she is studying with the renowned Mezzo-soprano Luciana D’Intino.


    The Exclusive Opera Lively Interview with Leyla Martinucci


    This is Opera Lively's interview number 249. Reproduction is authorized as long as the source is quoted and a link to our website is provided. Questions by Opera Lively chief editor Luiz Gazzola. Pictures of the artist have been recovered from her website. There was no information regarding photographer credits. We'll be glad to include it if we are told what the credits should be; meanwhile, it is fair promotional use.


    Luiz Gazzola for Opera Lively - Maddalena's great moment, of course, is the quartet "Bella figlia dell'amore." It is rightfully called one of the most beautiful moments in the whole history of opera. I assume it is hard to sing for the mezzo due to the deafening sound the other three singers and the orchestra produce. Would you comment on the difficulties involved in this quartet and how to best go about it?

    Leyla Martinucci - Well, singing on stage with other colleagues or with a chorus is always not easy. That quartet is also not easy, as you noticed, because as a mezzo I sing low notes while Gilda and The Duke, for example, sing high notes. How to survive? Just don’t think about it. Concentrate on your voice and the technique. Technique is the only rescue anchor we have.

    OL - I have the impression that Verdi uses the four voices in this quartet just like musical instruments. It is like he is doing his orchestration with voices. It is sublime! Any comments?

    LM - Of course, it is pure Art. The melody every character follows is the definition of their personality. In my score I laugh at the Duke… 'I know very well men like you, it is my job.' But in the end she will fall in love with him… All girls are the same when they are in love. We believe in men even if we are clever and sly.

    OL - What about the psychology of Maddalena? She seems pretty cruel, not hesitating in convincing Sparfucile to kill an innocent young woman, just because Maddalena herself fancies the Duke. What would you say about the acting job involved in interpreting a callous character like this one? Or do you see any redeeming qualities in Maddalena?

    LM - Callous? I don’t think so. Rigoletto is a story of revenge, of power but also a story about love. Rigoletto protects Gilda with his love. Gilda falls in love with the Duke. The Duke… well, the Duke just falls in love with all the women in Mantua. Maddalena is a prostitute who helps her brother in his affairs. He is a killer. Between them I don’t feel love; it is an employment relationship. She has no way to escape. No future. No marriage for her, no happy ending. So, when she meets a guy that makes a love declaration to her and a marriage proposal, she finally sees a chance to change her life. Maybe it is her turn to live the Love. You can be the worst fellow in the world but you will always look for love.

    OL - What would you say are the qualities of this production that is being done by Opera Carolina, which you already did in Grand Rapids and Toledo?

    LM - I love this production. We have all the classic elements of the opera. You can recognize and follow the story easily but also have some new hints. I don’t want to spoil it, but I love the ending... it is so touching!! [Editor's note: this staging does introduce a slightly changed ending, which we found to be very interesting].

    OL - As an Italian singer with many roles sung in your native country, do you see any differences in the way opera is staged, played, and sung in the United States as compared to Italy?

    LM - I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to sing here. The audience is always so sympathetic and warm! There are 'differences' but I think people always make 'the difference'. Being lucky to work with people who love their jobs is the first step to create something unique.

    OL - You are a Baroque specialist. Do you have an opinion on whether or not it is better for the Baroque singer to perform with an orchestra that is in tune with ancient techniques?

    LM - Baroque is a kind of music that needs the appropriate space to be performed. It is intimate, with few orchestra elements and voices shades. Having said that, I really don’t change my voice or technique to sing Baroque. I change the style, but not the positions of the sounds.

    OL - What gives you more artistic satisfaction; performing in a more obscure opera by say, Vivaldi, which is in need of rediscovery and diffusion, or incarnating the very popular and beloved characters that the public is crazy about, such as Carmen and Rosina?

    LM - Mmmmm, I try to put myself in every role I sing. We are singers but most of all Artists. When I sing Gloria in La Gloria e Imeneo by Vivaldi, I try always to give emotions by acting and singing. My satisfaction doesn’t depend on the role in itself, but rather on how I play it. I can sing the smallest role in the world but if I give the best of me, I’m satisfied.

    OL - Are you interested in modern and contemporary opera? I am, and I particularly like the operas of Salvatore Sciarrino, whom I consider to be the best Italian composer in activity. Any comments?

    LM - I love new works and I can’t wait to receive a proposal from a composer to be his inspiration to compose one. I’ll do my best to be a perfect fit for his musical and theatrical needs.

    OL - What do you think can be done to get opera in Italy out of the current popularity and funding crises?

    LM - Big question! We must understand that times have changed. We no longer have the money of the 80’s; we no longer have the voices of the good old days, but we have other singers and good innovation. We have the web, and social media. Opera must not be scared to use them. The silent movie didn’t end with the voice! On the contrary, it should be viewed as an opportunity. I’m very social. Facebook, Instagram help an Artist to communicate with fans and prospective fans.

    OL - So, you started appearing in opera at the age of 10. That's impressive. Can you tell us more about your beginnings? What drove you to opera at this young age? Was your family into it, already?

    LM - Yes, my father is Nicola Martinucci, a tenor. I grew up with Opera. The first question of the day during breakfast was: 'is papa's voice ok?' That answer could change the mood of the house. When you are a professional singer, the first thing you do when you are still in bed is check the voice.

    Because of this sort of slavery, I did spoken theater and then musicals for a few years.
    Then one night I went to see La fanciulla del West in Genoa. My father was Dick Johnson. One normal performance, one of the many. My life changed. I saw all the acts while crying like a baby. It was devastating.

    I went to my father's dressing room and very seriously I said to him: ’I don’t know if I will be able to do it, but I must try. I wanna be an opera singer.’ Feeling all those emotions…nothing in the world is like opera! The next day I had my first opera voice lesson.

    OL - How do you define your personality? How are you, as a person? What are the ideas that guide you through life?

    LM - I love life, I love my job, I love to love. Passions guide me. With no passions, no emotions, life is just staying alive! I try to live my life all the way. I prefer to choose few people as friends, and to stay alone instead of being surrounded by empty people.
    I believe in respect, in kindness. I believe in the smile of my nephew, the embrace that puts all the world in the right order.

    OL - What do you like to do outside of the world of classical music? What are your favorite activities to enjoy yourself when you have a break from opera?

    LM - I love cinema; I can see three movies per day. I love to cook and have friends over for dinner at home. I love go to the theater as a member of the audience. I love to spend the day at the antiques market, buying old books and enlarging my library. I love to study new roles; it is a magic moment, to open for the first time a score and discover a new universe of notes, words….

    OL - Thank you for this lovely interview!

    LM - Thank you very much, Luiz!



    Let's watch this very funny 1-minute video Leyla uploaded to her channel when she was rehearsing for this same role in January in Toledo:

    And this is another one (she is so much fun!):

    And here we have the complete YouTube of her Rosina in Trieste on July 10, 2016. She makes her entrance at 38:55, to sing 'Una voce poco fa'. The second act is on a separate video clip. Unfortunately it's filmed from afar and with not the best sound, but it does convey the fact that this seems to be an interesting production. What an idea for the sets!


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