Born in Philadelphia, American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo studied English literature at Yale University and music at King’s College, Cambridge, where he sang in both the King’s College and Clare College Choirs. As the Anthony Saltmarsh Scholar for Opera at the Royal College of Music, London, he made his debut as Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, followed by the title roles in Handel’s Arminio and Alessandro Severo for the London Handel Festival. Much sought after by opera houses and conductors thoughout the world, Lawrence’s engagements have included: Ottone in Monteverdi’s Poppea(Paris) with René Jacobs, Arsamene in Serse(Paris) with William Christie, Endimione(La Calisto) in Munich with Ivor Bolton, Agrippina (La Monnaie, Brussels) , Rinaldo(Montpellier), and Scarlatti’s Griselda(Berlin) with René Jacobs, Rodelinda (Glyndebourne and Karlsruhe) with Trevor Pinnock, Cavalli’s Giasone(Spoleto Festival Charleston) with Harry Bicket, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Singapore, Gluck’s Orfeo(Netherlands), and the title role in Giulio Cesare with Roy Goodman in Drottningholm, Sweden.. Also much in demand for contemporary works, Lawrence made debúts last year at the Operá de Paris as Kreon in Liebermann’s Medea and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in Thomas Adés’ The Tempest, and performed Salavatore Sciarrino’s Luci mie traditrici in Brussels, Lincoln Center New York, and Rouen. He has particularly become associated over the last few years with the role of Mascha in Peter Eötvos’ Tri Sestri in several productions throughout the Netherlands, Hamburg, Brussels, Edinburgh, Lyon and Vienna.
In addition to his opera engagements, Lawrence is an active concert artist and recitalist, working with leading conductors and both modern and period ensembles in the fields of both early and contemporary music. Appearances include a concert tour of Gluck’s Orfeo with René Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockorchester of the Canary Islands and Germany, the Messiah with John Nelson and L’Ensemble Orchestrale de Paris, a recital of Vivaldi cantatas and Purcell songs at the Innsbruck Festwochen der Alte Musik, Bach Lutheran masses at the Leipzig Bach Festival with Joshua Rifkin, Bernstein’s Missa Brevis at the Cinncinnati May Festival with James Conlon, Bach cantatas at the Lufthansa Festival in London with Ivor Bolton, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Birmingham Symphony and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Berliner Symphoniker.
Lawrence’s future plans include a European concert tour and recording of the Messiah with René Jacobs, Flight and Giulio Cesare for the Glyndebourne Festival, and Xerxes(Arsamene) for English National Opera. In the spring of 2007 he will make his Metropolitan Opera debut as Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare
His CD and DVD recordings include Handel’s Rinaldo and Scarlatti’s Griselda(both recently released by Harmonia Mundi), Handel’s Serse(Virgin Classics), Partenope(just released by Chandos) Saul(also soon to be released by Harmonia Mundi France), Lotario(Ulms Classics), Fernando, Ré di Castiglia(soon to be released by BMG), Purcell’s Jubilate, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and Handel’s Deborah.
Lawrence lives in Yorkshire, England with his wife, the soprano Giselle Allen.
Source: Zazzo website


Handel: Saul (2005)
Hande: Partenope (2005)
Celebration of the Spirit (2005)
Handel : Serse (2004)
Scarlatti: Griselda (2004)
Handel: Lotario Highlights (2004)
Handel: Rinaldo
Handel: Deborah (2002)
Pergolesi: Stabat Mater

Listen to Lawrence Zazzo

Scarlatti Griselda - Gualtiero’s Act2 aria “Vorresti col tuo pianto
Handel Agrippina -a selection from Ottone’s Act 2 recit +aria, “Voi che udite
Handel Serse -Arsamene’s ActII aria “Si, la voglio
Handel Saul - David’s aria “Oh Lord Whose Mercies Numberless
John Dowland - "In Darkness Let Me Dwell
Bach’s B Minor Mass - Agnus Dei
Staffan Isbeck - “Nu ser ja pa dig
Scarlatti Griselda - Gualtiero’s Act 1 aria “Che bella tirannia
a selection from “Adonai roi” from the Chichester Psalms
Handel Rinaldo - Lawrence sing Goffredo’s Act 3 aria “Sorge nel petto
Handel Deborah - Barak’s Act I aria “How lovely is the blooming fair


ipse dixit
David Vickers : Who was your main teacher at the Royal College?
Lawrence Zazzo: David Lowe – a tenor! I’ve never really been taught by another countertenor. The only exception is Nicholas Clapton, but no other countertenors have really given me voice lessons per se. To me it’s not so important a voice type, as long as the teacher has good technique and likes countertenors. Some teachers don’t identify with the voice. I had one teacher who kept trying to get me to sound like her, you know, a big mezzo voice, and I came out worse. Whereas my current teacher Russell Smythe is a baritone, does a lot of singing as well as teaching, really likes countertenors and loves the repertoire. He’s very interested in trying to get me to sing with my voice with as much efficiency as possible, and not trying to get me to sound like somebody else. So the last couple of years have been really good. I started with him right before I did Serse with William Christie, which was really helpful for me to prepare for Arsamene because it lies that much higher in the voice than Senesino roles. I think I’m more of a Senesino singer.

David Vickers: A lot of countertenors say that about Senesino. Is it because the range is more comfortable?
Lawrence Zazzo: But I think my voice really does lie in the right place for it. A lot of countertenors say that they like Senesino roles because the high notes in other castrato roles are too difficult, but I can get the low notes out: my voice is rich down there. For instance, the role of Ottone in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea is difficult for a lot of countertenors, but it isn’t so difficult for me: my voice feels very comfortable down there. But I would certainly say that a lot of the Senesino roles are perfect for me. That’s why I want to do Orlando…

David Vickers: Rene' Jacobs is very much based on drama, although he can be controversial when it comes to musical style.
Lawrence Zazzo : That depends on who you ask. He is someone who can certainly do a nice brisk tempo, and yet make it sound dramatic – as you can hear on Saul. What is the Handel style? To me, this music is about having an elegant veneer, an over-arching style, which every so often is punctured completely and goes crazy. It is this whole idea of the mad scene – the idea of having a convention but then breaking it. That’s how this music works. If you never puncture through it, it all seems a bit safe and a bit staid, a bit boring. But if you puncture it too many times, then it starts to unravel. I think René really gets the balance right. Maybe some people find him too over the top, but I think he is willing to make it a bit crazy and kitschy. He always makes it exciting, and I don’t think you could ever say that he in unaware of style. I think he really knows a lot. He knows enough to know that he can beyond normal expectations. He always says to singers that he wants us to take risks. He risks going slightly too far – but with so many good recordings of Saul already out there, why not do something strange and different?
(source: interview by David Vickers , Handel)

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