Tenors Matías Moncada Albarrán and Alexander Utkin are sharing the role of King Mustafa in the Auditorio de Tenerife production The Italian in Algiers, by Rossini, which opens the Ópera de Tenerife season on 25 October. Their performance is part of the sixth Opera (e)Studio, whose training period is starting on 7 September.

Chilean tenor Matías Moncada, who studied at Universidad de Chile and obtained a grant from Fundación Ibáñez Atkinson and from Corporación Amigos del Teatro Municipal de Santiago, is “looking forward to coming to the Island”, as he has had “good references about the opera work done at Ópera de Tenerife”. Born in Russia, Alexander Utkin studied choral direction at Bryansk Regional College and at Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire in St. Petersburg, and describes the island’s Auditorio “as one of the most beautiful in Spain”. The Russian singer, who in his early years took up rock, has personal references about the training that has been carried out on the island in the last years.

Regarding Opera (e)Studio, which is starting in September and lasts two months, Utkin has purposefully prepared for it and believes “it’s a great chance to take part in an exciting production and gain stage experience by playing one of the leading roles”. He also highlights “the feedback you get when working with major musicians and young performers”, something Moncada also points out, as he hopes to have “many experiences that will enrich me and make me grow as an individual”.

Neither of them has performed the The Italian in Algiers before but they both believe it is “energetic”Moncada likens it to “a wave that gets hold of you from the overture all the way to the end”. For his part, Utkin adds that Rossini’s classic “is full of humour and vital power”.  

The character of Mustafa “is a real challenge” according to Moncada, as, “you can’t fall off, you must keep active not to lose the audience attention”. He adds that “this histrionics, Rossini’s typical sparkle, means that if one of the characters doesn’t keep up the energy, the whole thing fades”. Utkin, refers to the different aspects of Mustafa’s multi-faceted personality to describe the difficulty of the role, “he’s a serious guy but behaves like a child; I think the most difficult thing is to combine these two features to make him interesting and amusing to the audience”.

With their eyes in the future, they are both realistic and take it step by step, as Utkin says “it wouldn’t be very original to say that my goal is to become a top-level professional, have an international career and sing across the world”. For the time being, he feels “very comfortable with Rossini, my commitment in Tenerife looks like a good start for a long successful path”. Moncada also focuses on the present and wishes “to go on learning as much as I can” as “whatever the future brings depends on how I live the present time”, he reflects.

When asked about the roles they would like to play in the future, Alexander Utkin recognises that when he discovered the beauty of Verdi’s The Troubadour, he was certain that it was “the role of my dreams”; although he admits that because he has a bass-baritone tessitura “it could be a problem”, so he goes for “Garibaldo in Rodelinda by Händel or Igor in Prince Igor by Borodin as the most suitable roles in my career at the moment”. Matías Moncada says that “he likes Mozart very much and the character of Leporello”. He claims to be enjoying every performance “to the full, as if each of them were the role of my dreams”.

Moncada and Utkin are two of the thirteen singers in this year Opera (e)Studio, where they will start a process of comprehensive artistic improvement, under the supervision of Giulio Zappa, to conclude with four performances of The Italian in Algiers to be held at Sala Sinfónica of Auditorio de Tenerife from 25 to 28 October. This production is bringing musical director Nikolas Maximilian Nägele to the Island and has Giorgia Guerra as stage manager.