I can’t say that I am a fan of countertenors. I always found that this kind of voice had most of the time problems of intonation and sound, which most of the time makes it sound forced and feeble. Until I heard Nicholas Tamagna in a concert version of Vivaldi’s “ORLANDO FURIOSO” at the Athens at the Megaron Concert Hall. Here is a well rounded, beautiful voice, flexible and with clear coloraturas which was well suited to the music of Vivaldi. What impressed me more was his great musicianship and sensitivity to the score. I met him in Athens, during rehearsals for a baroque opera Vinci’s “Alessandro nelle Indie” which will be presented in Bayreuth.  

A.S: So you are here for an opera that will be presented in Germany?  

N.T: Yes at the Margravial theatre at Bayreuth built by the Margravine Wilhelmina of Beireuth,(1) a woman who built it for opera performances, she was actually herself a composer. It is under the direction of Max Cencic an artist I worked with many times, and he actually planned this performance a few years ago. I had already done another Vinci opera with Max “Gismondo” that was actually recorded. it is very interesting to keep exploring the works of this less known composer.  

A.S: He is however a rather unknown composer of the earlier baroque.  

N.T: Vinci was actually I’d say more early high baroque – 1720-30, but of this Neapolitan school of the time he is typically Italian, his music is characterised by melodies, coloraturas and very complex melodies, and less complex harmonies at times like you would expect from Haendel, but his operas have these very florid arias with fantastically written vocal fireworks – very showy, and yeah, it’s interesting to explore his works because they are so different from other later baroque composers. Definitely of the Neapolitan school. What is most interesting to me is that I look at his music more like a blueprint, a prescription of how to sing it. He is clearly hinting towards a general structure that you then have to tease out and bring  the details, that is actually quite fun to do because you have a lot more improvisation and input on the character both dramatically and musically.  

A.S: you sing only baroque music, or also contemporary works?  

Wilhelmine of Prussia, Margravine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth

N.T: Yes actually I do sing a lot of contemporary repertoire, I have done a lot of modern operas as well, I will be in the next season singing the Refugee in “Flight” by Jonathan Dove for the second time, I have done a lot of Britten, and a lot of things that have been written for me , even a commissioned one with a company I started with fellow artists and friends that we did during the pandemic, that was an interesting project to get off the ground, we commissioned the work with Forum Neue Kunst in Oldenburg, and had the title role written for me. it was a very interesting experience, and I have done many other things like that. I got to work close with the composer and it is always lovely to have input on how a role is crafted for me.  

A.S: Here in Athens you have appeared with George Petrou and the Armonia Atenea, do you enjoy working with Greek artists?  

N.Tamagna in Haendel’s “Giulio Cesare”. Photo by Frank Stefan Kimmel

N.T: Yes , oh yes George is a wonderful person, he has an energy in his music-making that is contagious, so you can’t not do what he wants anyway, it is so persuasive but at the same time he is a good conductor for singers because he listens to you,  how you breathe how you move, he really follows the singers. With some other conductors, you know, you have to really tow the line, they won’t follow or they drive you too much in a direction where you don’t feel comfortable, with George it is never like this,  musicality comes first and you always feel supported. His Orchestra is fantastic, they really listen , they follow, and the players he has brought in over the years,  are not afraid to push the boundaries of expression, and I think this is extremely important.

A.S: So, what are your future plans?  

N.T: Well, now I have this production with Max that goes basically through September  then in the new Season I‘ve got a concert version of a new opera that hasn’t been performed for nearly three hundred years, by Caldara “Il Venceslau”, which we will be doing at the Teater an der Wien, and in Poland as well, with the same Orchestra that we are doing “Alessandro”, (O.H) and that comes in November, then off to Tel-Aviv  for “Ariodante” to sing Polinesso and after that I go to Sydney with Pinchgut opera to sing the title role in “Giustino” of Melani, so I have to do quite a lot, so it is good that after “Alessandro” I have a free month to prepare other roles.  

A.S: So thank you and I wish you all the best for a brilliant career , hoping to have the opportunity of hearing you again in Greece.  

N.T: It is always a pleasure to sing here and I hope to bring more baroque music to Greece.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelmine_of_Prussia,_Margravine_of_Brandenburg-Bayreuth</

“Giulio Cesare Fotos by Frank Stefan Kimmel