Roberto Alagna was 10 years old when he first saw the classic Hollywood film "The Great Caruso," starring Mario Lanza as the celebrated Italian tenor. The movie changed Alagna's life.
"[Caruso] was like 'Robin Hood,' " Mr. Alagna remembers. "He was a great hero for me. I decided then to become a tenor."
Now, as two of the most respected singers in the opera world, Alagna and his wife, soprano Angela Gheorghiu, are making their own films, which they hope will bring the rich world of opera to other impressionable 10-year-olds, as well as to the public at large.
The reigning "golden couple" of the opera world, Alagna and Gheorghiu have two projects premièring next month that showcase the depth and diversity of opera on film. On July 1, PBS begins airing Charles Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet," as part of its "Great Performances" series. July 12 marks the release of Puccini's masterpiece "Tosca" in US movie theaters.
In both projects, Alagna and Gheorghiu light up the screen with their charisma. They are not only two of the most attractive high-profile singers in the operatic world, but among the most artistically acclaimed. They also have a spate of recordings to their credit (including the "Tosca" soundtrack).
The Romanian-born Gheorghiu is known for her luminous, velvety soprano that can soar with ardent lyricism. The remarkable tenor Alagna, born in France of Sicilian parents, sings with a radiant purity. His voice is capable of a thrilling, expressive edge without straining. The two have been married since 1996, after meeting in 1992, when they sang the love-struck Mimi and Rodolfo in "La Bohème."
"When you are in love with a woman, the possibility to see her in these different characters is the most beautiful gift you can receive from God," Alagna says. "It is never routine between us as a couple. All the time, you fall in love again."