Born in Elbasan, Albania, today Saimir Pirgu is among the most visible tenors on the world’s great concert and operatic stages. He started his musical training in his native city at a very young age, studying the violin and receiving his diploma in that instrument. Subsequently, he pursued voice at the Conservatory Claudio Monteverdi in Bolzano, under the guidance of Vito Maria Brunetti.
In 2002 he won his first major vocal prize which was followed by awards from other prestigious competitions, the Caruso and Tito Schipa, immediately bringing him to the attention of important individuals in the profession and starting his ascent on a world-wide career.
At only twenty-two years old, he was chosen by Claudio Abbado to undertake the role of Ferrando in Così fan tutte in Ferrara and, in the summer of 2004, he repeated this role at the Salzburg Festival under Philippe Jordan.
Following that he commenced an important collaboration with the Wiener Staatsoper, where he made a significant impact in L’elisir d’amore and has since participated in a wide array of productions.
A series of major debuts followed resulting in considerable critical and popular acclaim for the young singer at the: Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Opéra National de Paris, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Arena di Verona, Teatro Colón, San Francisco Opera, Deutsche Staatsoper, Opernhaus Zurich, Tokyo’s Opera Nomori.
He has collaborated with such renowned maestros as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon, Antonio Pappano, Franz Welser-Möst, Fabio Luisi, Daniele Gatti, and Gustav Kuhn. It was the latter with whom he recorded his first solo CD, a collection of arias entitled “Angelo casto e bel" which was released by Universal in 2006.
In 2009 he won the Franco Corelli Prize at Ancona’s Teatro delle Muse for his interpretation of Alfredo in La traviata. The role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi marked a pair of significant debuts which brought him to even greater international attention: at the Los Angeles Opera in a production marking Woody Allen’s operatic directorial debut, and at the Metropolitan Opera.
The most recent seasons have included acclaimed productions in Italy and beyond. Of particular note have been La traviata at the Metropolitan Opera, Die Zauberflöte at La Scala, L'elisir d'amore in Rome, the Verdi Requiem conducted by Riccardo Muti in Salzburg, Lucia di Lammermoor in Washington and Hamburg, Werther in Tirana, Rigoletto in Zurich, Idomeneo at Graz’s Styriarte Festival, Iolanta and Francesca da Rimini (Rachmaninoff) in Vienna, and, for his debut at the Liceu, Rodolfo in La bohème.
On the concert stage he has been heard at Vienna’s Musikverein, in Torino with Claudio Abbado, with the Wiener Philarmoniker at Salzburg with Riccardo Muti and at the Concertgebouw with Peter Schneider, with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia under Vladimir Jurowski, and with the Bayerischer Rundfunk with Mariss Jansons.
Earlier this season Mr. Pirgu received much public and critical success following his debut at the Arena di Verona in Don Giovanni, which also marked the first time the famed Festival presented this opera and the first time the great Franco Zeffirelli directed there. He assumed the role of Conte di Almaviva in Mercadante’s I Due Figaro at the Teatro Colón conducted by Riccardo Muti and opened the season of Naples’ Teatro San Carlo in La traviata, performed New Year’s concerts at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. He continued his collaboration Maestro Muti for performances of the Schubert Mass No. 5 recently in Munich.
Among exciting upcoming engagements are L'elisir d'amore in Vienna, Macbeth under James Conlon in Florence, as well as re-engagements at the Metropolitan Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Covent Garden, Paris, Zurich, San Francisco and Graz.