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Pavarotti to his agent: ‘you make a career with the roles you refuse, not the ones you sign’

We have received the following post from the agent Angelo Gabrielli, who founded Stage Door Management with Adua Pavarotti to manage both leading singers and starters. Here is his response to the Pappano furore:



Nowadays, most young singers want success at any cost. They see ordinary guys on a tv program where they dance or sing without great talent suddenly get rich and famous and they seek teachers or managers who know how to place them, above all, in the right places (theaters or record companies and especially media such as glossy magazines or television), without too much concern to their knowledge of how to manage a voice and a career. Consumerism of recent decades has had the upper hand on careful management, not only of money (and many families take out  a mortgage beyond their means looking only to the needs of the moment), but also of one’s own professional career.

Luciano Pavarotti and especially Mirella Freni always asked me to remind young singers they had entrusted me with that “you will make a career through the contracts you refuse and not with those you sign”. Each role that a young singer agrees to sing, has to be right for his or her own voice and coherent with a progressive path already traced by the great singers with the same type of voice who preceded them.

When you sign a contract, you should concentrate on singing it in the best way through the study of singing and a proper historical and cultural preparation. Everything that goes beyond the voice possibilities or the singer’s own interpretative possibilities of interpretation, should be refused. This is the great lesson that I had learned in the early years of my thirty-year career as an agent, which began happily alongside Adua Veroni (Pavarotti’s first wife) with whom I founded Stage Door, managing artists such as Pavarotti, Mirella Freni, Nicola Ghiaurov,  Lucia Valentini Terrani and Raina Kabaivanska, just to name a few.

Since then I became interested also in the younger generations,  creating a  career for many young singers whom I listened to in the various International Lyric competitions, in which I participated as a juror. Today, many conductors such as Muti, Abbado, Mehta, Pappano, Chailly know that when I ask them to hear a young singer, they  almost always find themselves in front of talented singers who are also able to deal with the roles for which they submit to their judgment.

Just today I am at the Metropolitan to attend a performance of Traviata with the young Albanian tenor, Saimir Pirgu (only 30 years old) who has over 10 years of career. He is an excellent case study, as I had the chance hear him in 2000 in Ferrara, where he was hired as a cover for Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte conducted by Claudio Abbado. Saimir Pirgu not yet twenty, however, had  clear ideas even then. He came to Italy to specialize in singing in Bolzano where he found a great teacher, Vito Maria Brunetti, and just in Bolzano he had the chance to be introduce to Claudio Abbado, who offered him the opportunity to work with him in this production of Così fan tutte.





I can say that, despite being so young at the time, he was very attentive not only to my suggestions but also those of Luciano Pavarotti and of many other great singers and conductors he met along the way, and has always been able to choose the roles and theaters more suitable for his voice and his career, so that, today,  in spite of his still young age, he is firmly placed in the large international circuit of the most prestigious theatres of the world, through no bizzare marketing strategies (as many use today) but only with a clever management of calendar (timetable) commitments. Thus, he is very rare to cancellations, due to minor ailments, that are common for singers who go through sudden changes of climate, which allows one to program with great tranquility and optimism into the future.

(c) Angelo Gabrielli/Slipped Disc

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  1. Polplancon says:

    …and guess who cancelled as Afredo at the Met last night! Too little time between Rigoletto in Zuerich & Traviata in New York. Not such a clever publicity opportunity afterall…

    • So who was the cover?

    • scrupulous1 says:

      Marvelous comment!

    • Angelo Gabrielli says:

      Saimir Pirgu has simply caught a cold (common problem for singers and none singers) and has opted, as a true professional would do, not to jeopardize his own vocal health or the performance. The rehearsal period was particularly long for a revival (over three weeks) and especially for a singer who has sung the role dozens of times in the past. It has given him ample time to acclimate himself to the new time zone and rehearse with two great artists who were debuting their roles. As Pavarotti said himself, and I firmly believe it, Alfredo is the perfect role for a young man who wants to make a name for himself in the major opera houses of the world, a role that then one tends to drop when moving to more important roles where the tenor is the focal point of the opera. I think that the reviews published after the first night showed that Pirgu was singing exactly the right role for his return to the Met. Angelo Gabrielli

  2. Bravo Mr. Gabrielli. I have admired the management of Adua, a true career development manager, over the years. While many companies have ‘management’ in their names, they are really booking agents. It is important for emerging artists to know the difference. Many thanks for your message and congratulations for continuing the management. Ann

  3. Fantastic!

    I wish more singers and agents worked like this.

  4. IMO, Freni could have refused to sing Aida and Sills should have turned down the heavy Donizetti roles.
    Also opera conductors can work their way up as coaches and assistants as they did in the past.

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