BWW Interviews: Patrick Carfizzi Spills on His Opera Career and Playing Mustafà

Related: Houston, Houston Grand Opera, The Italian Girl in Algiers, L’italiana in Algeri, Patrick Carfizzi


Patrick Carfizzi has a lot of future projects lined up. Yet, Houston audiences are lucky enough to have the opportunity to see him perform as Mustafà in Rossini's THE ITALIAN GIRL IN ALGIERS, playing now through November 11, 2012. When Patrick Carfizzi isn't on stage he is teaching (which is something he loves and plans to do more of as time and schedule permits), volunteering for community groups, and working with the elderly from time to time. He is "delighted, honored, and grateful" to do what he does for a living. Despite his busy schedule, he spent a few minutes to talk with me about his career in opera, THE ITALIAN GIRL IN ALGIERS, and his character Mustafà.

Me: What was the first opera you saw performed?

Patrick Carfizzi: La traviata. I was 12 years old, and I saw a Metropolitan Opera tour of Traviata that came to West Point, which is near my hometown of Newburgh, New York.

Me: How did you get involved in opera?

Patrick Carfizzi: A few years later, I started singing and met a voice teacher who took me to my first opera from that, which was Il trittico. I fell in love with an opera that I actually couldn't sing anything in Suor Angelica-just absolutely fell in love with the art form via that piece. My love and passion grew from there. I saw THE MAGIC FLUTE about eight months later, and said, "You know, I think this is what I want to do."

Me: What was your first big break?

Patrick Carfizzi: My first big break was in Santa Fe as a young artist, and then from there I was asked to come to Sydney, Australia. That was all while I was still in grad school. Then, I was very fortunate to make my Met debut right out of grad school in 1999.

Me: What is it like performing in operas all over the world?

Patrick Carfizzi: It's fantastic. They don't put opera houses in any boring places; that's for sure. Sydney is beautiful; New York is gorgeous. It's a great luxury and a great honor to be able to perform around the world, to travel, to meet all different people from diverse cultures, to learn from them, and to make music with them.

Me: Do you find that the audiences are different throughout the world?

Patrick Carfizzi: Sure. Audiences are different wherever you go. They have grown up with their traditions and they have grown up with their experiences that they will bring culturally and socially into a performance. So, you always have some unique qualities no matter where you go. At the same time, you always have an appreciative audience, and that's a great thing.

Houston Grand Opera - Photo by Felix Sanchez." src="" alt="The Italian Girl in Algiers. Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera - Photo by Felix Sanchez." width="350" height="230" />Me: Even though you've been cast in THE ITALIAN GIRL IN ALGEIRS before, are there any unique challenges to playing Mustafà for the first time?

Patrick Carfizzi: Mustafà is a wonderful character. He is incredibly complex. Yes, it's wonderful to be familiar with the piece via Haly and Taddeo, but Mustafà in terms of complexity of character and complexity of both dramatic gesture and vocal gesture is a great challenge, and one that I really enjoy.

Me: Mustafà is an antagonist that the audience never dislikes. What are your favorite aspects of playing such a likable, yet villainous character?

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David Clarke David Clarke has had a lifelong love and passion for the performing arts, and has been writing about theatre both locally and nationally for years. He joined running their Houston site in early 2012 and began writing as the site's official theatre recording critic in June of 2013.

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