Dimitri Platanias is a Greek baritone just emerging onto the international stage. He has a big beefy baritone that seems ideal for Verdi. A great Verdi baritone is about as rare an operatic bird as can be found in the lyric aviary. The scarcity of the breed is the consequence of Verdi’s writing much of his baritones lines in the upper part of the normal baritone range. At the same time he required a rich and dark sound. The balanced combination of both vocal characteristics is what’s wanting in most baritones who attempt Verdi’s great roles

There’s rarely more than one great Verdi baritone active at one time. Virtually every Verdi opera has a big baritone role in it – Falstaff has two. In six of Verdi’s operas the title character is a baritone. Verdi’s operas are performed many times a day in opera house around the world. So what’s your chance of hearing one of the master’s baritone roles sung as it was intended? Close to zero.  Thus every opera lover keeps a focused eye on alert for the next great Verdi baritone, though disappointment usually prevails.

Platanias seems to have gotten a late operatic start. How far he will go will play out over the next few years. His management gives the following biographical sketch:

Greek baritone, Dimitri Platanias first studied classical guitar and graduated in both Classical Guitar and Singing at the Kalamata Municipal Conservatory and with a degree in English Language and Literature from the Greek National University in Athens. He decided to relinquish the classical guitar for a career in singing when in 2000 he won the Alexandra Triandi Scholarship from the Friends of Music Foundation in Athens to study for two years in Cremona with Aldo Protti’s window, Masako Tanaka Protti. In 2004 he made his debut at the Greek National Opera singing the role of Alfio [in] Cavalleria Rusticana. His debut in Italy as Gerard [in] Andrea Chenier in 2007 marked the beginning of his international career.

Here’s Platanias in Rigoletto’s great 2nd act scena. This is the one that defeats most baritones. Nevertheless they are drawn to the role like rust to a Buick.

Rigoletto Act 2 Platanias

Platanias sang the role of Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre just last week. The two excerpts below are from that performance. The first is the conclusion of the 1st act where the nefarious baron gets caught up in a Te Deum while lusting after the soprano. His appetite for her continues into the 2nd act.

Tosca Act1 finale Platanias
Tosca Act2 intro Platanias

below is a video of Platanias as Verdi’s most stern father – Amonasro. It’s from a May 2009 performance of Aida in Athens. The soprano is Ana Lucrecia Garcia. The costumes and acting are sub-conventional. Platanias’s voice is the attraction.

Finally, Platanias sings Carlo Gérard’s aria from the 3rd act of Giordano’s Andrea Chenier. Again there’s the big sound (as far as can be deduced from a recording) and the free top. Nemico della patria Platanias. We’ll see what develops with this artist. Hope springs eternal in the baritonal breast.

My thanks to Operafilly for alerting me to this new singer.

Note: Platanias is scheduled to sing the title role in Verdi’s Rigoletto next March at La Fenice in Venice. March 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the opera’s world premiere at that venerable theater.