March 06, 2019
Matthew and Mariusz: Dynamic Duo
When they’re onstage, Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecień create magic together.
Not since the heyday of Plácido Domingo and Sherrill Milnes have a tenor and baritone enjoyed such a special rapport in their performances. Lyric audiences have followed them since they were just starting out, and individually each has become a great favorite here. But they haven’t appeared on our stage together — until now! This season they’re soon to star as Nadir and Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, one of their greatest successes to date when they premiered a new production at the Metropolitan Opera in 2016.
Besides The Pearl Fishers, these two have headlined Met performances of Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, Roberto Devereux, and L’elisir d’amore. They’re artists who connect with each other’s voice and style, and onstage they’re so comfortable working together that they can anticipate each other’s next move. Despite their characters nearly always being in conflict (usually over a woman, of course!), they collaborate with total unity and a special electricity.
Back in 2004, when they were establishing themselves internationally, Matthew and Mariusz made a beautiful recording of the beloved tenor/baritone duet from The Pearl Fishers. How wonderful that they’re now able to fulfill their fans’ hopes by singing the full opera onstage together! Anyone singing that duet has to deal with people’s memories of legendary duos — Jussi Björling/Robert Merrill, Plácido Domingo/Sherrill Milnes, many others — but Seen and Heard reported that “when [Polenzani and Kwiecień] sang with such soft, tender tone, their voices perfectly matched… the aural memories were erased.” The New York Observer noted that “Mariusz Kwiecień is invariably an elegant singer, ennobling the scheming character to the point that the melodramatic finale of the opera felt like high tragedy.” Matthew was hailed for the “vibrant yet dreamlike quality to his singing” (Huffington Post) and especially for Nadir’s exquisite aria, which he sang with “wondrous lyrical tenderness” (The New York Times).
Polenzani and Kwiecień — truly a dynamic duo, each at the peak of his career. See and hear them at Lyric!