Who is Freddie De Tommaso?
Freddie De Tommaso is a 28-year-old opera singer who, last December, became the youngest ever tenor to sing the role of the painter Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca at Covent Garden. His debut disc, ‘Passione’, which he released in March 2021, hit number one in the classical charts and was met with huge critical acclaim.
Where is he from?
As his surname suggests, this singer has Italian heritage. His father, who died when he was 18, came from Puglia, which is why De Tommaso has a decent command of Italian. But his mother came from Tunbridge Wells, where Freddie grew up, and where, when he was old enough, he worked for a time, helping out in the Italian restaurant run by his parents.
What is his voice like?
Variously described as ‘dark’, ‘sturdy’, ‘Italianate’ and ‘wonderfully vintage’, his vocal timbre has been compared to that of singers from a bygone era. His father’s favourite music was Pavarotti, which he would have on loop in the family restaurant, so perhaps it’s not surprising that De Tommaso grew up idolising the great Italian tenors of the early-mid 20th century, whom he still refers to as his heroes.
What was his training?
Despite his father’s enthusiasm for Pavarotti, it was De Tommaso’s mother who really nurtured his love of opera, taking each of her three sons to Glyndebourne and Covent Garden. He joined his school choir at five, then continued as a treble into his teens. But he didn’t seriously consider music as a career until, having dropped out of his languages course at Bristol University, he decided to have some more singing lessons – and ended up winning a place at the Royal Academy Music, where he started out as a baritone, before switching to tenor.
How did he shoot to fame?
His breakthrough was winning First Prize, the Placido Domingo Tenor Prize and the Verdi Prize at the 2018 Viñas International Singing Competition in Barcelona. Since then, he has performed at Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper, Dutch National Opera, Wiener Staatsoper and SemperOper Dresden amongst other places.
What repertoire does he sing?
In addition to Cavaradossi, his major roles have included Cassio in Verdi’s Otello, Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth and Don José in Bizet’s Carmen. But he is keen to get some early bel canto Verdi under his belt too, such as I Due Foscari and Ernani.
When can we next hear him?
De Tommaso will play the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House from 14 June to 6 July 2022. He also has a new album on the way! Il Tenore will feature some of the most iconic arias and duets written for the operatic voice. For these duets, Freddie is joined by a stellar line up of female singers to Lise Davidsen, Aigul Akhmetshina and Natalya Romaniw. Decca will release the album on 24 June.
Photo: Craig Gibson