Lawrence Zazzo (born December 15, 1970 in Philadelphia) is an American countertenor. His repertoire includes roles in many Baroque operas and oratorios, as well as works of the 20th century. He lives in England.
Education and background
In his childhood Zazzo took part in school drama productions and choirs, including the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, and also performed as the magician
“The Great Zazzini” for smaller children in the neighbourhood. After his voice had broken, he noticed that he had kept his alto voice in the falsetto register and began to develop it. He sang in numerous barbershop ensembles, high school madrigal and a cappella choirs. This led to his decision to study English and Music at Yale University (1989–93) and at King’s College, Cambridge, England, (1993–95). Zazzo envisaged a career as a conductor, a concert singer or as an academic (and in fact, Zazzo completed a PhD in Musicology at Queen’s University (2015) on Handel’s oratorios, which he researched for six years in between singing engagements). While he was completing his vocal studies at the “Royal College of Music” in London (1995–97), he made his debut as Oberon in Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The same year he sang the title role in George Frederic Handel’s “Arminio” at the London Handel Festival. This was the beginning of his opera career which developed rapidly.
Zazzo has worked with numerous conductors including René Jacobs, William Christie, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Ivor Bolton, Christopher Hogwood, Trevor Pinnock, Christophe Rousset, Harry Bicket, Emmanuelle Haïm, Harry Christophers, Paul Goodwin, Péter Eötvös, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Hervé Niquet, Jean-Claude Malgoire, Jordi Savall, James Conlon and others for many opera houses and concert halls.
His major operatic roles include Giulio Cesare in "Giulio Cesare" (Metropolitan Opera New York, La Monnaie Brussels, Netherlands Opera Amsterdam, Paris National Opera, English National Opera London, Concertgebouw Amsterdam), Orfeo in "Orfeo ed Euridice" (Oslo Opera House, Canadian Opera Company Toronto, Reisopera Netherlands), Radamisto in "Radamisto" (English National Opera London) and Gualtiero in "Griselda (A. Scarlatti)" (Berlin State Opera). He performed the titel roles in "Sosarme" (Teatro Nacional de São Carlos) and in "Alessandro" (Karlsruhe).
He also sang the Ottone in "Agrippina (Handel)" (La Monnaie Brussels, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées Paris, Opera Frankfurt), Ottone in "L'incoronazione di Poppea" (Bavarian and Berlin State Opera, Theater an der Wien and La Monnaie Brussels), Goffredo in "Rinaldo" (Berlin State Opera, Opéra National de Montpellier, Zürich Opera House), Farnace in "Mitridate, re di Ponto" (Bavarian State Opera Munich) and the role of Ruggerio in "Orlando furioso" (Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt). He sang the Cardenio in Francesco Bartolomeo Conti's "Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena" (Theater an der Wien). He took over the alto part in the Semi-opera "The Fairy Queen" by Henry Purcell (Berliner Philharmonie) and the role of Arsace in "Partenope" (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées Paris, Ferrol, Amsterdam, Pamplona, Essen and Madrid). In the German debut performance of Francesco Cavallis "Veremonda" he sang the role of Delio (Rokokotheater Schwetzingen, Staatsstheater Mainz). He sang the role of Arsamene in "Serse" on Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt and Unulfo in "Rodelinda" on Teatro Real Madrid.
His repertoire includes numerous oratorio by Georg Friedrich Händel (for example "Messiah" (Shanghai Opera, Notre Dame Cathedral, Konzerthaus, Vienna, Winchester Cathedral, Munich Residenz), Semele (Philharmonic Köln, Concertgebouw, Concertzaal Gent), "Theodora" (Chan Centre for the Performing Arts Vancouver, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Theater an der Wien), "Jephtha" (Stefaniensaal Graz), "Acis and Galatea" (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Theater an der Wien)) and Johann Sebastian Bach ("St Matthew Passion" (Harris Theater (Chicago), Ambronay, De Doelen Rotterdam))
He has also appeared in several roles in contemporary works, among others as Oberon in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Opéra National de Lyon, Canadian Opera Company Toronto, Teatro all 'Opera di Roma, Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence, Poly Theater Beijing, Hamburg State Opera), as Trinculo in "The Tempest" (Royal Opera House Covent Garden), as the Refugee in "Flight" (Glyndebourne Festival) and as Masha in "Three Sisters" (Opéra National de Lyon, La Monnaie Brussels, Theater an der Wien). He sang the role of Odysseus in the debut performance of "Sirenen - Bilder des Begehrens und des Vernichtens" by Rolf Riehm (Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt).
- 1995 Celebration of the Spirit, incl. Leonard Bernsteins "Chichester Psalms", DVD (Brilliant Classics) an CD (Columns Classics)
- 1995 Gloria (Brilliant Classics)
- 1996 Arianna, live-recording (NMC Records)
- 1996 Stabat Mater, CD (Brilliant Classics) and DVD (United Classics)
- 2001 Deborah, live-recording (Naxos)
- 2003 Griselda (Harmonia Mundi)
- 2003 Rinaldo (Harmonia Mundi)
- 2004 Lotario (highlights), live-recording (Oehms Classics)
- 2004 Serse (Virgin Classics)
- 2005 Partenope (Chandos Records)
- 2005 Saul (Harmonia Mundi)
- 2006 Messiah (Harmonia Mundi)
- 2007 Byrdland with the Paragon Saxophon Quartett (Landor)
- 2007 Fernando (Virgin Classics)
- 2008 Duetti amorosi with Nuria Rial (Harmonia Mundi)
- 2008 Riccardo Primo (Harmonia Mundi)
- 2010 Athalia (Harmonia Mundi)
- 2011 Lunarcy with Shizuku Noiri (lute) (Evil Penguin Records)
- 2012 Alessandro, live-recording (Pan Classics)
- 2012 Apollo et Hyacinthus (Linn Records)
- 2012 Giulio Cesare, live-DVD (Virgin Classics)
- 2012 Mozart In-Between (Sony Classical Records)
- 2014: Mitridate, re di Ponto (Signum Records)
- 2014: A Royal Trio (Harmonia Mundi USA)
- "The Great Zazzini". southjersey.com. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
- "PhD in Musicology at Queen's University". belfasttelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "Radamisto at ENO". musicalcriticism.com. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
- "The making of Mitridate, re di Ponto". classicalopera.co.uk. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Presto interview - Lawrence Zazzo on A Royal Trio". prestoclassical.co.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2014.