When did you start singing?
When I was 9.
Why did you start singing?
I was studying piano, and the transition was natural.
Which singer inspired you most when you were young?
Mario Del Monaco.
Which singer do you most admire?
All those who have managed their voices well and had a long career.
What’s your favourite role?
What role have you never played but would like to?
What’s your favourite opera to watch?
I never go to the theatre because I can’t help but identify with the singers and I come out exhausted, as though I’ve sung the opera myself.
Who is your favourite composer?
Who is your favourite writer?
Who is your favourite theatre or film director?
Who is your favourite actor?
Who is your favourite dancer?
What is your favourite book?
I love biographies and books on history.
What is your favourite film?
Which is your favourite city?
What do you like most about yourself?
That I don’t take myself too seriously.
What do you dislike about yourself?
That I don’t confront problems immediately.
What was your proudest moment?
When I sang Falstaff at the Met last Decembre meaning that, at 42, I’ve been able to sing this character in all the most important theatres in the world.
When and where were you happiest?
In the Caribbean, swimming undisturbed in the crystalline sea.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife Valeria.
Ambrogio Maestri and his wife Valeria
What is your greatest fear?
Every now and then I dream that I’ve lost my voice!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I were more tenacious.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The first time I sang Falstaff, in 2001, at La Scala, in Giorgio Strehler’s production and with Riccardo Muti conducting.
What is your most treasured possession?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Watches — if by extravagant you mean expensive — and sleeping with my feet out of the bed.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Having a firm opinion about everything.
On what occasion do you lie?
How much space have you got…?!!
If you hadn’t been a singer what would you have liked to be?
What is your most marked characteristic?
I wouldn’t know… my skinniness?
What quality do you most value in a friend?
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Calmness, and the ability to enjoy oneself on stage.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
I’ve always found Genghis Khan fascinating.
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you most dislike?
Those who are strong with the weak, yet weak with the strong.
What talent would you most like to have?
Be able to learn languages easily.
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
A world without illness.
How would you like to die?
In my sleep, in my bed.
What is your motto?
While there’s life there’s hope!
Ambrogio Maestri — a biography
Ambrogio Maestri was born in Pavia where he studied singing and piano.
His sensational debut in 2001 coincided with the most important musical event of the Verdi Centennial, Falstaff, conducted by Riccardo Muti and directed by Giorgio Strehler, which saw him in the leading role at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the historic Teatro Verdi in Bussetto. This interpretation earned him enthusiastic reviews from the international press and opened the doors of the most important opera houses in the world.
The collaboration with Riccardo Muti lead him over the next three years to debut at the Teatro alla Scala in some of the most emblematic Verdi roles such as Iago in Otello, Renato in Un Ballo in maschera, Don Carlo di Vargas in La forza del destino and Giorgio Germont in Traviata, thereby strengthening the foundations of a constantly ascending career.
Guest of the most prestigious opera companies world-wide (Metropolitan Opera, Opera de Paris, Covent Garden, Staatsoper di Vienna, Deutsche Oper di Berlino, Maestri continues his Verdian journey performing as the Conte di Luna in Trovatore, Amonasro in Aida, Rolando in La battaglia di Legnano, and in the leading roles of Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto and Nabucco.
Loved by the public and critics who continue to support him with the same enthusiasm as at the beginning of his career, Maestri is confirmed as one of the most acclaimed baritones on the international scene.
In a rewarding career with an abundance of roles Maestri has obviously continued to bring Falstaff to the most important stages, with Sir John becoming his true alter ego through in depth research and interpretative recitation. In fact each new production represents a challenge that enables Maestri to study and experiment unedited actors’ and voice nuances. The continuing analysis and refining of the character, also carried out by confrontation with the greatest directors and conductors , brings a wealth of new results.
The ten-year collaboration with the Arena di Verona led him during the 2012 season to celebrate his one hundredth performance of another beloved opera: Aida. A significant milestone that results in a mature and complex interpretation of the character of Amonasro.
In these years of intense activity Maestri has been directed by the best conductors of the international scene including Zubin Mehta, Daniele Gatti, Daniel Oren, Fabio Luisi, Antonio Pappano, Jeffrey Tate, Nello Santi, Marcello Viotti, Marco Armiliato, Gianandrea Noseda, Renato Palumbo,Daniel Harding…and by directors such as Franco Zeffirelli, Robert Carsen, Graham Vick, Peter Stein, Bob Wilson, Larent Pelly, Mario Martone, Hugo De Ana, Bartlett Sher…
In 2006 Maestri encountered for the first time the character of Dulcamara. The Opera de Paris, planning a new production of Elisir d’amore, wished to assign, as in the past, the role of the congenial charlatan to a baritone. The success of the performance rewarded this decision recognizing in Maestri a vocal flexibility that permits him to range from serious to buffo repertoires.
In the last four years Maestri has confronted Puccini and Verismo. He debuted in Tosca at Torre del Lago, Cavalleria rusticana at the Metropolitan in New York and Pagliacci at La Scala in Milan. The choice of playing such strong and passionate characters came, not surprisingly, after a decade of experience. This stage experience in fact allows him to enhance the vehemence of his own vocal weight without losing the la linea del canto.
In 2012 the director Ferzan Ozpetek, who had directed Ambrogio in Aida at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, offered him a role in his film Magnifica presenza. Playing the part of an opera singer in the forties, Ambrogio Maestri had a cinematographic experience alongside an exceptional cast, made up of some of today’s greatest Italian actors.
Verdi’s bicentennial in 2013 represents the consecration of Maestri as a reference Falstaff. He was Sir John at La Scala, at the Opèra National de Paris, at Zurich’s Opernhaus, at Salzburg’s Festival, in Munich, in Tokyo, and at the Met in New York where he celebrated his 200th performance of the role. In 2013 he also interpreted Nabucco at the Arena di Verona; Amonasro in Aida at La Scala, at the Arena di Verona, and in Tokyo; and Simon Boccanegra at Turin’s Teatro Regio.
In 2014 Ambrogio will be working on several productions such as Pagliacci in Vienna, Tosca in Barcelona, Nabucco in Munich, Othello at Turin’s Teatro Regio, Aida at Rome’s Opera. We will see his Falstaff in Amsterdam with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, in San Paolo in Brazil, and in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Colon.
He will also make his debut as Gerard in Andrea Chenièr at the Peralada Festival.