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Special Reports

Where Are They Now?
Baritone Adam Plachetka

June 5, 2018 | By John Fleming

New Artist of the Month: February 2009

When Adam Plachetka was named Musical America’s first New Artist of the Month, the Czech bass-baritone was singing a lot of Mozart at Prague’s National Theater, including Don Giovanni and Figaro. The next year, at 25, he took the biggest step of his career to that point, joining the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera, where he made his debut as Schaunard in La bohème. “I think I will have time to develop in Vienna, because I expect to do some smaller parts there and I will have more time to study and listen to the masters,” he said at the time.

Today, Plachetka is well established in Vienna, and his repertoire includes nine Mozart roles. At the State Opera this season, he sang the title role in Don Giovanni as well as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro. Since 2015 he has appeared regularly at the Metropolitan Opera, singing the title role in Le nozze di Figaro and Guglielmo in Phelim McDermott’s new production of Così fan tutte this season. He returns to the Met in 2018-19 as Leporello in Don Giovanni.

Plachetka’s Mozart is also featured with other major companies. In the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Magic Flute in 2016, his “smooth, agile baritone was ideal for Papageno’s comic mix of cowardice and carefree nonchalance,” according to Musical America. He plays Mozart’s bird catcher this summer at the Salzburg Festival. He has also been in starry concert versions of Così fan tutte and La clemenza di Tito conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin for a Deutsche Grammophon series of late Mozart operas.

As a young singer, Plachetka listened closely to recordings by bass-baritones George London, Falk Struckmann, Samuel Ramey, and Bryn Terfel, but now he tries to stay free of such influences to find his own voice. Asked what makes a great singer, he said: “It’s the voice, it’s the technique, it’s the education, it’s the manner, it’s the languages, it’s the X factor. You have to have that something that is really hard to describe. You just pass energy to the audience, and you get it back.”

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