“Lawrence Zazzo makes his crystalline countertenor glitter as Disinganno.”Wiener Zeitung, August 2021
“Purity, power, presence” (Opera Today) are the hallmarks of American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo. A diverse international opera and concert career has taken Zazzo to many of the world’s leading opera houses and festivals in an eclectic repertoire from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice through to Jonathan Dove’s Flight.
Zazzo made his operatic debut as Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream while still a student at the Royal College of Music in London and has since performed the role extensively to great acclaim including at Canadian Opera Company, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Staatsoper Hamburg, Wiener Staatsoper and, most recently, in Dominic Hill’s critically acclaimed new production for Scottish Opera.
Highlights of an illustrious career include Disinganno in Robert Carsen’s staging of Handel’s Il trionfo de tempo e del disinganno at the 2021 Salzburg Whitsun and Summer Festivals alongside Cecilia Bartoli and conducted by Gianluca Capuano, Farnace in Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto for Bayerische Staatsoper, Bertarido in Claus Guth’s production of Rodelinda at Opéra national de Lyon and Tolomeo at the Metropolitan Opera. As Giulio Cesare, Zazzo has appeared at Opéra national de Paris, at La Monnaie, English National Opera and Semperoper Dresden and he’s sung the title roles in Radamisto for English National Opera, Orlando for Welsh National Opera and Solomon for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He has appeared as Orfeo (Orfeo ed Euridice) with Canadian Opera Company, Den Norske Opera and with New National Theatre Tokyo in Saburo Teshigawara’s new production under Masato Suzuki, released this season on OperaVision. Further highlights have included Ottone (Agrippina) at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Goffredo (Rinaldo) at Staatsoper Berlin and Opernhaus Zürich and Ottone (L’incoronazione di Poppea) at Theater an der Wien, La Monnaie and Bayerische Staatsoper. This season Lawrence reprises two of his recent roles for Oper Frankfurt: Tamerlano in R.B. Schlather’s acclaimed production at the Bockenheimer Depot and Arsamene in Tilmann Köhler’s production of Xerxes under Roland Böer.
With a strong affinity for contemporary repertoire, Zazzo has created several contemporary characters including Mascha in Peter Eötvös’ Tri Sestri, the Refugee in Jonathan Dove’s Flight for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and Trinculo in Thomas Ades’s The Tempest at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He gave the world premiere of Dove’s Hojoki with BBC Symphony Orchestra under the late Jiří Bělohlávek, and created the role of Odysseus in the world premiere of Rolf Riehm’s Sirenen for Oper Frankfurt conducted by Martyn Brabbins. Most recently Zazzo gave the premiere performance of Paradise Lost, a monodrama written for him by Geoff Page, to unanimous critical acclaim.
The most recent addition to Zazzo’s impressive recording catalogue is Handel Uncaged, a cycle of cantatas for alto voice and trio released on the Inventa label. Other discs in his extensive discography include Baroque Gender Stories, recorded with Lautten Compagney and Wolfgang Katschner (deutsche harmonia mundi), A Royal Trio (harmonia mundi USA) featuring works by Ariosti, Bononcinci and Handel with La nuova musica and David Bates, Mozart’s Apollo et Hyacinthus (Linn Records) and Mitridate, re di Ponto, both with Classical Opera and Ian Page, and the title role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Le Concert d’Astrée and Emanuelle Haïm (Virgin Classics).
“Lawrence Zazzo’s Oberon, vocally mature and commanding, visually scabrous and decadent, made a suitably amoral, ambiguous centrepiece”
“Zazzo sang with immense power and beauty, and the emotional edge in his voice, suggestive of oppressive inner turmoil, was hugely affecting.”
“Musically, it was a tour-de-force performance by Zazzo, who dominated the stage for most of the opera. He lived through the emotional rollercoaster from mourning to momentary hope, to despair and happiness again, with power and a range of colour. I hadn’t heard him live for several years, but his voice is as warm, smooth and beautifully controlled as I remembered him, and it easily projects to the back of the auditorium. His opening heartfelt cries of “Euridice” pierced our hearts, and “Che farò senza Euridice” was all the more poignant for its simplicity.”
“Experience, however, shone through especially tellingly in Lawrence Zazzo’s Oberon, a king of the fairies who was gloriously lyrical in his singing, but also a completely believable character of make-believe.”
“American Lawrence Zazzo is an internationally experienced Oberon, his pure countertenor confidently carrying ethereal shudder”
“Making his Scottish opera debut, the American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo, striking as the ethereal, almost disembodied Oberon, is pale-faced, purple-lipped, ghoulish.”
“Lawrence Zazzo makes his crystalline countertenor with polished piano tips glitter as Disinganno.”
“Lawrence Zazzo, as Insight, showed great Baroque style, his countertenor powerful…a beautiful performance overall.”
“Countertenor Lawrence Zazzo alone offers songs outside that cosy English style: he well conveys the irony of ‘God’s Love’ in Jonathan Dove’s setting of Vikram Seth; and the tart and expressive angularity of Iain Bell’s ‘Come away, Death’ is a relief after so much salted caramel sweetness.”
“Lawrence Zazzo was an excellent and devoted Unulfo”
“Weaving through gentle lyricism, strident anger, and spoken declamation, this was a performance which embraced an astonishing emotional gamut and did so with courage, commitment and impressive technical underpinning. Purity, power, presence: Zazzo evinced all three. What a show with which to return to the performing platform after months of lockdown and the silencing of one’s singing voice.”
“Countertenor Lawrence Zazzo fully throws himself into the eccentric role and brilliantly brings out the wild, ludicrous nature of the character”
“Lawrence Zazzo’s performance is the main attraction of this reprise…From the outset [Zazzo] gives us a dazzling “Presti omai”, unpredictably eventful and rich in dynamic contrast. The same febrile inventiveness electrifyingly animates the Da Capo of “Va tacito e nascosto” and the vocalizations of “Al lampo dell’armi”, with a conquering rage. Zazzo takes the role of the latin lover to heart (“Se in fiorito”, “Bello / Bella”), but he also gives us “Aure, deh, per pietà” in a version which is both more carnal and poetic than we have ever heard; a visceral interpretation with a simultaneously overwhelming delicacy.”
“A vivid performance from Lawrence Zazzo who shone the title role”.
“Zazzo gave the title role his all. Through gestures, facial expressions and vocal fire, I believed every twist of Orlando’s fate. He was convincing when mad, when fighting, even when sleeping on his feet.”
“Lawrence Zazzo is a wonderfully helpless, languishing Arsamene”
“The only countertenor this evening is Lawrence Zazzo, with a striking luster and brightness in the voice.”
“The countertenor Lawrence Zazzo was equipped with the greatest Baroque experience in this cast, and showed his strengths in his organic ornamentation”
“Lawrence Zazzo as Arsamene is an ardent countertenor with an attractively dark tone.”
“Among the soloists, the countertenor Lawrence Zazzo stood out for his enchantingly beautiful voice in the role of Delio”
“Lawrence Zazzo was astounding: he excelled in the laments (essential in the largely plaintive role of Arsace), but displayed great vitality in the recitatives (and was the only performer who really enjoyed this part of the role)…Zazzo delivered the aria [“Furibondo spira il vento”] with power and impressive aplomb…and delivered the most convincing account of this famous aria that we’ve ever heard.”
“Lawrence Zazzo, one of the great countertenors of the last decade, who not only has Arsace in repertoire [but] recorded the opera just ten years ago…Lawrence Zazzo was the star of the evening…His instrument carries an enviable volume…yet maintains its freshness and elasticity…No other countertenor shapes every word, every syllable…His initial aria “O Eurimene ha l’idea di Rosmira”, not a very interesting aria, is given new life in his hands…He conquers the impossible coloratura in “Fuirbondo spira il vento”, one of the most complicated of Handel’s, gets right to the heart in the desolate “Ma quai note di mesti lamenti”, and gives a tender rendition of “Ch’io parta? Si crudele” full of intense beauty”
“Zazzo (Arsace) sang with astounding expressivity…receiving a standing ovation from the audience.”
“Athamas was portrayed by the American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo, singing his three arias with warm, gleaming tone.”
“As the eponymous hero, Lawrence Zazzo was impressive. His sound – carefully varied – captured the edgy, tortured nature of the character, diminished by his mental state yet physically strong. Zazzo was also astute in husbanding his resources so that the long vocal stint that is his mad scene stood up as the high point of the opera.”
“Lawrence Zazzo, that most manly and forthright of counter-tenors, as a handsome Orlando whose insanity was expressed with graphic and moving power.”
“Lawrence Zazzo’s Orlando cuts a striking figure. He projects his substantial but agile countertenor to good effect, often with touching expressiveness”
“In the title role, Lawrence Zazzo’s rich countertenor turned from biting fury to melting beauty with ease…his portrayal of Orlando’s madness was one of enormous power.”
“The stately beauty of Lawrence Zazzo’s Oberon is indisputable and he successfully interprets one of the strangest roles Britten wrote”
“Lawrence Zazzo came, sang, and conquered.”
“Countertenor Lawrence Zazzo revealed a powerful, lithe voice as Semele’s rejected fiancé Athamas”