Sheer Pleasure

As a part of its Delicatessen series, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra presents a semi-staged production of The Barber of Seville, arguably Rossini’s most popular opera. Roberto Abbado, a regular guest on podiums of the world’s major orchestras and leading opera houses, returns to the IPO for the fifth time in just a few years. The international cast of soloists features mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato as Rosina, tenor Juan Francisco Gatell as Count Almaviva, baritone Pietro Spagnoli as Figaro, bass Alfonso Antoniozzi as Doctor Bartolo and bass Carlo Cigni as Don Basilio, as well as soprano Daniella Lugassi as Berta, baritone Yair Polishook as Fiorello, and actor Shlomo Tarlovsky as Ambrogio. The Gary Bertini Israeli Choir also participates.

“I received this offer more than a year ago, and now the time has really arrived. I’m so happy!” says young Israeli soprano Lugassi. “The cast is the best one could only dream of. I saw Abbado conducting at La Scala four years ago, so there’s no need to explain how happy I am to find myself in this company!” she adds.

Lugassi has already sung in several operatic productions, Verdi’s Aida among them, and it was IPO artistic director Zubin Mehta who suggested that she appear in The Barber of Seville.

Lugassi was born in Jerusalem into an immigrant family. Her father, a doctor, comes from Paris, while her mother, a teacher and painter, is American. “They met in Israel in Hebrew class,” says Lugassi, who grew up in Ashkelon. And this was where she got her initial music instruction. “I studied with Russian teachers from an early age, like 10. I implored them to teach me, and at the beginning it was not especially operatic singing. Then, when I was 12, they started to give me some light operatic material. I started with Neapolitan songs and musicals and over the years continued to more complicated arias,” she recounts.

She later moved to the Thelma Yellin Arts School in Tel Aviv, and after her army service she entered the Tel Aviv Music Academy to study with Tamar Rahum.

Today, she divides her time between Israel and Berlin, where she studies.

“In Berlin, I’m working with various teachers all the time – voice, acting, everything. To advance your career, you first need to work hard. The more professional you are, the better the chances that people will want to work with you. It’s that simple.”

Lugassi has appeared with many local orchestras in regular concert series and at festivals, as well as on radio broadcasts. “I’m also trying to perform abroad. That’s why I’m in Berlin. I recently sang in Beethoven’s Missa.”

Among her major achievements, the young soprano counts her work with the IPO and Zubin Mehta, “which was a great luck because in those days I was still a student,” as well as her collaboration with the Israeli Opera, where she sang in Pique Dame and will appear as Papagena in Mozart’s Magic Flute later this year.

The entire cast of The Magic Flute is Israeli, with Israeli Opera artistic director David Stern in the pit. “This is going to be something special, different, but I’m not going to reveal all the secrets now. That will be a surprise for the audience!”

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