The Second Chénier – an American

Il Messaggero, Wednesday,August 10, 2005

An American who interprets a Frenchman and sings in Italian. But behind everything there are the Marches and their secret fascination. Steven Harrison, a New Yorker, will be Andrea Chénier at the Sferisterio beginning this evening and for the final two performances. Possessing a most likeable personality, Harrison has a special relationship with the Marches. If today, in fact, he is an opera singer, a good part of his career he owes to a sojourn in Urbino, where he was a student. While attending the University of New York where he was deepening his studies in piano and oboe (which he had begun as a child), he came to the City of Montefeltro for a cultural exchange. While in Urbino, he studied the Italian language, Italian cinema and Renaissance art history.

“When I returned to New York” – he tells – “I began to sing, because I finally understood Italian.” He began to work in the opera, with a job in the Metropolitan Opera extra chorus. After an apprenticeship in New Mexico, at the Santa Fe Opera, the New York City Opera called for an audition, after which came an offer to sing the tenor role in La Bohéme. The year was 1995 and with this opportunity he began his career. “It was written in the stars that it had to progress like this” – he says – “Now I understand the destiny which brought me here to the Marches during those days in Urbino. And now I find myself singing a role that has been rendered mainly from the best tenors from the Marches.”

According to Harrison the role of Chénier is a part that gives satisfaction. “The music and the story are universal, therefore they speak to all of us. The protagonists and their conflicts stir you through the musical phrases: they speak straight to the heart. For whomever sings this role, it is a great opportunity which frees the emotions, and carries you from the beginning to the end.”