Magrì will star in the upcoming season of La Bohème, the original bohemian love story, glittering and alive in the halls of the Sydney Opera House.
La Bohème is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s.
For this season at Opera Australia, director Gale Edwards has moved the action to the fishnets and fairy lights of 1930s Berlin.
It’s a gift to the designers who have drawn a world of lush velvet and glittering fairy lights.
The story goes something like this:
A poet, a painter, a musician and a philosopher walk into a bar to celebrate a sudden windfall in a lean winter.
It’s Christmas Eve, and the poet has just felt the first pangs of great love.
When a seamstress knocks on his door searching for candlelight, the pair fall in love faster than she can sing “Yes, they call me Mimì...”
Between the ideals of love and art and the cruel realities of cold winters, bitter jealousies and empty pockets, two sets of lovers are trying to find their way.
When asked what he thought of Puccini’s famed opera, Magrì said: “This opera has it all”.
“Poetry, happiness, suffering, love and art.
“It’s very relevant to today...”
Magrì, who will play the afflicted poet Rodolfo, said that he adores and identifies with Rodolfo’s character.
“He’s a very romantic character,” he said.
“He’s playful, and like me, a poet who writes continuously...
“And he has suffered.
“I have also suffered, having lost my mother when I was young.
“I feel a great affinity with his character.”
Since making his opera debut in 2006 as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Magrì has sung many roles and in many theatres worldwide, including Arturo in I Puritani at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Duke in Rigoletto at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and Alfredo in La Traviata at the Israeli Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin.
While he adores Rodolfo from La Bohème, he emphasised that what he loves most is playing a variety of roles.
“I like all of them,” he said.
“I come from a family of actors!
“Poetry is at the soul of every character.
“Every character has its mysteries and profundities.”
Magrì was born and raised in Catania, an ancient port city on Sicily’s east coast.
The city is renowned for its simmering energy and passionate qualities which are attributed to its position beneath the active volcano Etna and beside the Ionian Sea.
“The city gives you a sense of liberty which is hard to find elsewhere,” Magrì said.
On his mother’s side, Magrì said that his family were “actors of poetry”.
They wrote, and they recited.
He said that his nonna was a Sicilian poet.
But he was the first person in the family to fully explore music, uniting recitation and singing in the great art form of opera.
Magrì said that although he “always sang”, he only began his operatic studies when he was 19 years old.
His music examiners were impressed by his talents and awarded him a scholarship to attend the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan.
Magrì said that his time at this school was “very beautiful”.
“From a human, musical and artistic point of view, it was incredible,” he said.
Magrì’s reputation as a tenor eventually reached the ears of the incredibly famous and late Luciano Pavarotti, the operatic lyric tenor who is considered to be one of the finest bel canto opera singers of the 20th century.
Pavarotti took an interest and curiosity in the young Magrì, who subsequently began to study and learn alongside him.
Although by this time Pavarotti was already getting sick (he died of pancreatic cancer in 2007), Magrì said that to listen and study alongside him in real life after hearing him digitally for so long was “a marvellous experience”.
It’s a period of learning which Magrì will carry close to his heart forever.
Magrì mentioned that alongside Christmas and the end of year celebrations, this time of year is also his birthday.
“Being away from home, particularly at this time of year, is hard,” he said.
“The life of a singer is demanding.
“As an opera singer you can never stop studying.
“But it makes you feel good... you feel prepared.”
He also said that he is absolutely delighted to be making his Australian debut at the Sydney Opera House.
“I swear to you, I have dreamed since I was a child about coming to Australia.
“My career has finally allowed me to do it.
“Although I haven’t seen much of Sydney yet, I already like the atmosphere very much.
“I am extremely excited and happy to be completing this part of my life, and I hope that in the future, the occasion to travel more in Australia will arise.”
La Bohème will run at the Sydney Opera House from Wednesday January 2 to Thursday March 28, 2019.
Get your tickets on the Sydney Opera House’s website.