British ‘Baby Spinto’, Freddie De Tommaso, makes his debut as Cassio in Keith Warner and Antonio Pappano’s Otello for The Royal Opera

Written by: Amanda-Jane Doran

Freddie De Tommaso has burst onto the international opera scene since winning first prize at the Viñas Competition in Barcelona two years ago. He is that rare bird: an Italian-British tenor of the lyrico spinto variety, possessor of a voice of powerful sweetness and flexibility.

Freddie De Tommaso
Photograph: Julian Baumann

At only twenty-six he is making his artist debut in Keith Warner’s production of Otello for The Royal Opera in the role of Cassio. I spoke to him briefly after the impressive dress rehearsal of the piece to discover how he had arrived at this exciting place in his career. De Tommaso is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music Opera School. Before that, at school, he had sung as a chorister and developed a passion for acting. He never intended to become a singer, and initially studied languages at Bristol University. Fate intervened and he reconnected with his singing teacher Toby Stafford-Allen. A bass-baritone at this point, his exploratory vocal workouts would eventually take him to a high B, and the emotionally expansive tenor lyric roles of Verdi and Puccini.

Following his success, winning the first prize, the Plácido Domingo and Verdi prizes at the 2017 Francisco Viñas International Singing Contest, De Tommaso was faced with several appealing offers, including a position in Munich at the Bayerische Staatsoper Studio. Its production of Puccini’s La fanciula del West was streamed worldwide this summer, with De Tommaso taking the role of Joe. His dark good looks combined with dramatic stage presence make him a natural young lead. Daily vocal work, combined with physical fitness and plenty of hydration have proved a winning formula as De Tommaso looks forward to an exciting, developing range of roles. The fight scenes in Otello were an exhilarating challenge, and he also confided that the rehearsal time with the lead singers, Gregory Kunde and Carlos Álvarez, with Sir Antonio Pappano and Keith Warner were enthralling and inspirational. He had to pinch himself to believe he was really there.

De Tommaso’s favourite listening gives a clue about his future trajectory as an artist. Top of the list is Franco Corelli, followed by Mario Del Monaco, ‘tenori di forza’ possessed of ringing, trumpet like voices. The major dramatic roles could take shape for De Tommaso, as more dreams to come true for this dashing young singer.

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