Meet The Performers

Visiting Artist

Saimir Pirgu

Saimir Pirgu’s whirlwind advance from conservatoire in Italy to the leading roles on the world’s premier opera stages sees him already positioned as the new generation lyric tenor of choice for leading conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Antonio Pappano, James Conlon just to name a few. From the outset he was identified as a major future talent. Born in 1981, he starts his musical studies as violinist in 1988 at the Music College in Elbasan (Albania), his hometown. He then studies Voice at the Music Conservatories in Tirana and with Vito Brunetti in Bolzano, with whom he continues to study. In 2002, he wins the "Enrico Caruso" international competition in Milan and the "Tito Schipa" international competition in Lecce. In 2009, he also receives the prestigious "Franco Corelli" award at the Teatro delle Muse in Ancona.

Mr. Pirgu makes his debut at the Rossini Opera Festival with Il Viaggio a Reims and Adina, Ovvero il Califfo di Bagdad, followed by the beginning of a successful collaboration with the Wiener Staatsoper, winning the prestigious prize "Eberhard Wächter Medaille" for his interpretation of Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore. He then debuts on some of the world's most important stages: Hamburgische Staatsoper; Bayerische Staatsoper; Staatsoper Berlin; Teatro dell'Opera and Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome. 

Highlights of his outstanding performances are: Idomeneo (title role) conducted and directed by Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Graz and in Zurich; Così Fan Tutte (Ferrando) at the Teatro Comunale in Ferrara conducted by Claudio Abbado, at the Salzburger Festspiele with Philippe Jordan, at the Ravinia Festival in Illinois and in Toulouse; Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio) in Vienna, Zurich and Ancona; La Traviata (Alfredo) at the Royal Opera House in London, the Santa Fe Opera Festival, the Hamburgische Staatsoper, the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence and the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège; Gianni Schicchi (Rinuccio) for his US debut in 2008 at the Los Angeles Opera directed by Woody Allen and conducted by James Conlon, for his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 and at the Opéra de Paris; La Bohème (Rodolfo) staged in Bern, produced by the Schweizer Fernsehen and broadcast live on SF1, TSR1, RSI LA1 and Arte (2009); Lucia di Lammermoor (Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood) in Hamburg; Roméo et Juliette in Salerno; Alfano's Cyrano (Christian) at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; L'Elisir d'Amore in Rome; Falstaff (Fenton) in Zurich and Vienna; and Die Zauberflöte (Tamino) for his recent debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan (2011).

Saimir Pirgu also enjoys a prolific concert activity with, among many others: Mozart's Requiem with Claudio Abbado at the Lingotto Auditorium in Turin; a highly acclaimed Verdi's Requiem conducted by Riccardo Muti at the Salzburger Festspiele; a recital in Busseto, Verdi's native town, within the Verdi Festival organized by Parma's Teatro Regio; and a concert performance of Gianni Schicchi conducted by Vladimir Jurowski at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

Mr. Pirgu's recent engagements include: Lucia di Lammermoor and L'Elisir d'Amore at the Hamburgische Staatsoper; Rigoletto (Duca di Mantova) and La Traviata at the Opernhaus Zurich; Così Fan Tutte at the Los Angeles Opera; Iolanta and Francesca da Rimini at the Theater an der Wien; Gianni Schicchi in Lyon; Lucia di Lammermoor at the Washington Opera; Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio) at the Opéra de Paris. He has just made his debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona singing Rodolfo in La Bohème opposite Angela Georghiu. He was Alfredo in La Traviata in Vienna for the Wiener Festwochen, a new production of by Deborah Warner.He also performed Dvorak’s Stabat Mater in Graz with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival, at the Salzburg Festival for Berlioz’s Messe Solennelle with Riccardo Muti; Don Giovanni at the Arena di Verona directed by Franco Zeffirelli; I Due Figaro at the Colon in Buenos Aires, Muti conducting; I Capuleti e i Montecchi in San Francisco; Schubert’s Mass N.5 with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in Munich again under Muti. Mr. Pirgu lately starred in La Traviata for the opening night season at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the New Year’s Day concert at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice under Sir J. E. Gardiner. Mr. Pirgu has just sung Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Chicago under the baton of Riccardo Muti and the Petite Messe Solennelle in Paris and Vienna, Daniele Gatti conducting. At the teatro della Pergola in Florence, Saimir Pirgu has just made his debut as Macduff in Macbeth (original version of 1847), James Conlon conducting and Graham Vick directing. 

After his great success singing in Verdi’s Requiem at the Enescu Festival under the baton of Antonio Pappano and in Vienna and Munich with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischer Rundfunks and Mariss Jansons conducting, Saimir Pirgu sang Rigoletto at the Arena di Verona, at the Brabican Center in London with the London Symphony Orchestra and in Zurich. Future plans: La Bohème in Washington; La Traviata, Rigoletto and King Roger in London (Royal Opera House); La Clemenza di Tito at the Opéra National de Paris; Macbeth and a Gala Concert at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona; Lucia di Lammermoor in Los Angeles and Toulouse where he also will perform La Favorite; La Traviata in Vienna and San Francisco; Don Giovanni at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under James Conlon; Rigoletto in Zurich, Vienna and Toulouse. On the concert side Mr. Pirgu will perform Berlioz’s Messe Solennelle with the Wiener Philharmoniker in Vienna under the baton of Riccardo Muti.

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.