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Musical World

Catherine Malfitano

  • Director, Artistic/Stage
  • Soprano


Catherine Malfitano stage repertoire of more than seventy roles spans the entirety of operatic history. Her interpretations extend from Monteverdi's Poppea and Erisbe in Cavalli's L'Ormindo to Annina in Menotti's Saint of Bleecker Street; from Gluck's Euridice to Polly Peachum in Weill's Three Penny Opera; from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor to Humperdinck's Gretel; from Marzelline and Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio to Poulenc's Thérèse in Les Mamelles de Tirésias; from Konstanze in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro and both Zerlina and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni to Cleopatra in Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra; from Fiorilla in Rossini's Il Turco in Italia to Emilia Marty in Janácek's Makropulos Case; from the three heroines in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann to the three heroines in Puccini's Il Trittico; from Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata and Lady Macbeth to Rose and Anna Maurrant in Weill's Street Scene; from the title roles in Massenet's Manon and Thais to Puccini's Tosca, Cio-Cio-San, Mimi and Liu.

A champion of twentieth century music, she has sung in the world premieres of Carlisle Floyd's Bilby's Doll, Conrad Susa's Transformations, Thomas Pasatieri's Washington Square and The Seagull and William Bolcom's A View from the Bridge, McTeague, and Medusa. She has also sung Berg's Lulu and Marie in Wozzeck, Schreker's Der Ferne Klang, Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and Weill's Mahagonny and Seven Deadly Sins.

Throughout her career, Ms. Malfitano has worked with the world’s leading conductors including Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Sir Colin Davis, Riccardo Muti, Sir Charles Mackerras, Riccardo Chailly, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, Neeme Järvi, Sir Andrew Davis, Daniele Gatti, Dennis Russell Davies, Carlo Rizzi, Semyon Bychkov, Donald Runnicles, Simone Young, Michel Plasson and Bruno Bartoletti. Her collaborations with directors Robert Altman, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Luc Bondy, Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Patrice Chéreau, Elijah Moshinsky, Sir Peter Hall, Peter Zadek, David Pountney, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, Graham Vick, Götz Friedrich, David and Christopher Alden, John Dexter, Giancarlo del Monaco, Jürgen Flimm, Stein Winge and others have produced many of the most memorable operatic events of our time.

In the summer of 2005, Catherine Malfitano added another facet to her artistic profile with her debut as a stage director.This critically acclaimed new production of Madama Butterfly took place at Central City Opera and marked her return to that theater where she made her professional singing debut in 1972.She will return to the same theater in the summer of 2007 for a new production of Menotti’s Saint of the Bleecker Street.She will continue to direct productions in coming seasons.Her singing engagements in 2006/7 include two productions of Jenufa in her debut with English National Opera and in a return to Washington National Opera, the latter conducted by Jiri Belohlavek.Both theaters will use the David Alden production which she created to universal critical acclaim at Houston Grand Opera.

The 2005/6 season included her first-ever performances of Ottavia in L’Incoronazione di Poppea in a new Nicholas Joel production conducted by Christophe Rousset at the Theatre du Capitole in Toulouse.She made her debut in the dual roles of stage director and singer, starring in her own production of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine conducted by Stephane Deneve with the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. In the 2004-5 season, she made her role debut as Carmen at Cincinnati Opera and repeated this role with Los Angeles Opera conducted by Plácido Domingo.She continued her celebrated association with composer William Bolcom singing the role of Victoria in the world premiere of his A Wedding directed by Robert Altman and conducted by DennisRussell Davies at Lyric Opera of Chicago.She made her role debut as Herodias in Salome which also marked her first performances at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo.

Catherine Malfitano began the 2003-4 season by adding another American opera heroine to her repertoire – the title role of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina in a new production at Lyric Opera of Chicago.She also added Kostelnicka in Janacek’s Jenufa to her repertoire in a new David Alden production at Houston Grand Opera conducted by Dennis Russell Davies.Both portrayals received rave reviews.During the 2002-3 season, she repeated the role of Beatrice in Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge in the work’s Metropolitan Opera premiere.She sang the world premiere performances of Bolcom’s Medusa on a US tour and in Stuttgart with Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra.This work, a monodrama with orchestra, was created for her.She concluded the season with her first performances of both Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins as well as the first-ever staging of the Medusa with Cincinnati Opera in a unique one-woman triple bill.

Highlights of recent seasons include her first performances of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West at Los Angeles Opera, Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk at the Metropolitan Opera, Kundry in Parsifal at San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Bayerische Staatsoper; Anna Maurrant in Street Scene at Lyric Opera of Chicago; her first Senta in a new production of Der Fliegende Holländer at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Janacek's Kat’a Kabanova at the Metropolitan Opera and Houston Grand Opera as well as a new production at the Bavarian State Opera; Weill's Jenny in Mahagonny in new productions at the Salzburg Festival and Lyric Opera of Chicago; Verdi's Lady Macbeth in a new production at the Houston Grand Opera and at Lyric Opera of Chicago; The Makropulos Case at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera; a new production of Tosca at the Netherlands Opera and at the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera and Deutsche Oper am Rhein; Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera (a new production telecast in December 1995), Lyric Opera of Chicago, La Scala, and in Berlin, London, Vienna, Munich, Marseilles, Toulouse, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Florence, Hamburg and Barcelona; Salome in Tokyo, Brussels, Berlin, Florence, Paris, Chicago, London, Vienna and at the Salzburg Festival and the Metropolitan Opera; Stiffelio, Eugene Onegin and Tosca (including the opening night of the 2000/2001 season) at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden; Marie in Wozzeck at the Vienna State Opera and in a new production at La Scala; Donna Elvira at the Salzburg Festival; and Leonore in Fidelio in Geneva, Berlin, Paris and Jerusalem.

In recital, she has appeared in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Toronto, Washington, DC, Houston, Zurich, Vienna, Barcelona, Geneva, Brussels, Bonn and at the Salzburg Festival and London's Wigmore Hall. She also appeared in a joint all-Weill recital with William Bolcom and Joan Morris in Toronto.Orchestral appearances have included the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival with Eschenbach, the Royal Philharmonic with Gatti, the Bayerische Rundfunk with Davies and the RAI Orchestra under Chailly.In May 2001 Ms. Malfitano made a special set of appearances at Joe’s Pub, part of the New York Public Theater, in a cabaret recital.This live performance has been issued on VAI Records.VAI has also re-issued a duo recital with her father, violinist Joseph Malfitano, for the first time on CD.

Among her recordings is Salome on the Decca/London label with Christoph von Dohnanyi and the Vienna Philharmonic. Her Rome Tosca with Plácido Domingo is available on Teldec video and compact disc. Other recordings include Roméo et Juliette with Alfredo Kraus on EMI, Rossini's Stabat Mater conducted by Riccardo Muti, Monteverdi's Poppea, and William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge. On video, Salome from the Deutsche Opera Berlin and the renowned Ponnelle film of La Clemenza di Tito are available, in addition to Stiffelio from Covent Garden opposite José Carreras, Mahagonny from Salzburg, the George London Gala from Vienna and the Metropolitan Opera galas celebrating the company's centennial in 1983, and James Levine's 25th anniversary in 1996. Her celebrated portrayal of Salome in the Bondy production at Covent Garden was released on video by Decca/London. Other telecasts have included Hoffmann and Suor Angelica from the Teatro Comunale in Florence, Antony and Cleopatra and McTeague from Lyric Opera of Chicago, Tosca from Amsterdam, Street Scene and The Saint of Bleecker Street, both from the New York City Opera and Butterfly from the Met.

In addition to Ms. Malfitano’s full opera schedule she also makes time for recitals, orchestral concerts, and cabaret performances, teaching voice privately and giving masterclasses throughout the world.