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

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

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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="http://houston.broadwayworld.com/upload10/421977/fsanchez_102412_9996.jpg" 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?

Patrick Carfizzi: [Laughs] It's always fun to play the person that people don't particularly like in real life. I feel one of the things that I love about playing Mustafà is that he is as far from my self in real life as I can imagine-in terms of villainy and in terms of his trickery, shall we say, and all that stuff.

Me: Are you and Mustafà alike in any way?

Patrick Carfizzi: Oh sure. Absolutely. There's not one among us that can't say they don't have an ego and they don't like being adored. We all like being loved. Mustafà, for all of his faults and all of his blindness to what's going around him, just wants to be loved. [Laughs] He wants be loved exactly the way he desires, which of course is one of his failings, but he also wants to be loved, and we all do. Also, too Mustafà does tend to get caught up in his emotions-again, a little bit of a tragic flaw for him. He gets easily caught up in his emotions and easily corrupted by his own power-or drunk on his own power, I think would be the more accurate way to say it. We all get caught up in our emotions and make decisions that aren't the best for us in the long run. There are definitely similarities. I'm not playing my polar opposite here. Just looking at what the audience sees, some of it is close to me personally and some of it is not that close.

Me: Are there any moments in the show that is a particular favorite of yours?

Patrick Carfizzi: There are several. I love Isabella's first aria, Curda sorte! [Amor tiranno!]. I think it's fantastic. I sing it in the shower in falsetto from time to time because I just adore it. Then, I adore the Pappataci trio in the second act. It is the most fun that you can possibly imagine having on stage.

Me: Who are some of your dream roles that you'd like to play?

Patrick Carfizzi: I would love to play Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte by Mozart. I would love to play Iago in Otello. And I would love to play Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Me: What advice do you offer to people trying to get their break in the profession?

Patrick Carfizzi: Make sure you love this with all of your being and enjoy doing this so much that there is nothing else you want to do. Then, as you're short of that or as you go through life and things ebb and flow and you still love it, then be sure that you're always having fun when you're performing.

Don't pass on the opportunity to see Houston Grand Opera's fantastic and hilarious production of THE ITALIAN GIRL IN ALGIERS at The Wortham Center. Tickets are still available and range from $20 to $288. For more information and tickets, please visit http://www.houstongrandopera.org/ or call (713) 228 – 6737.

Photos by Felix Sanchez, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera.

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

BWW Interviews: Patrick Carfizzi Spills on His Opera Career and Playing Mustafà
The Italian Girl in Algiers. Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera - Photo by Felix Sanchez.

BWW Interviews: Patrick Carfizzi Spills on His Opera Career and Playing Mustafà
The Italian Girl in Algiers. Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera - Photo by Felix Sanchez.

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

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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 BroadwayWorld.com 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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