The 25-year-old opera star is wrapping up his master’s degree in music at the University of Cincinnati and rehearsing for his role as Papageno in “The Magic Flute,” at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
“The Magic Flute,” a comedic opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, plays Thursday through Sunday in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“The character I play (in ‘Magic Flute’) is the comic relief of the show. He’s always lost or thinking he’s going to die. … I love singing Mozart operas,” said Lattanzi, who graduated Pebblebrook in 2006. “It’s very ensemble-driven.”
Among his accomplishments are a bachelor’s degree in voice from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in Ohio, internships with the Atlanta Opera and Metropolitan Opera, completion of the Georgia Governors’ Honors Program and completion of a summer study program with Oberlin in Italy. His most recent credits include the baritone lead in Merola Opera Program’s “Postcard From Morocco,” and Dottore Malatesta in Seattle Opera’s “Don Pasquale.”
Publications such as The San Francisco Chronicle have especially taken notice of Lattanzi’s talents as they did in last year’s “Postcard From Morocco” performance.
“Baritone Joseph Lattanzi, as a shoe salesman, combined robust vocalism, deft soft-shoe skills and plenty of charisma (in ‘Postcard’),” said Joshua Kosman, writer for the Chronicle.
Lattanzi is the son of Joe and Micki Lattanzi and grandson of Donald and Jean Murphy and Joe and Peggy Lattanzi.
When the Mableton native graduates in May, he will continue traveling the U.S. and singing in performances such as The Merola Opera Program’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” on Aug. 1 and 3 and Seattle Opera’s “The Consul” from Feb. 22 to March 7, 2014.
Lattanzi often lends his voice to area performances when he has time off from school. Retired minister Neal Ponder enlisted him to sing as guest soloist in December at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta.
“He has an easy-to-listen-to baritone voice. The fact that he combines singing, acting and good looks are an advantage,” Ponder said.
The retired minister has known Lattanzi since the up-and-coming singer’s Pebblebrook days and says his talents are numerous.
“I think he has a very good understanding of who he is,” said Ponder, who knew Joseph’s grandfather, Joe Lattanzi. “He has been very particularly successful in playing comedy roles. … He’s not just a singer.”
Frank Timmerman, director of Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts at Pebblebrook High, says Lattanzi is among his favorite artists who have graced the school halls.
“I’ve seen several of his post-Pebblebrook performances and am filled with pride as I follow his career,” Timmerman said. “Joseph is good to be willing to come back to Pebblebrook to offer guidance and teach master classes for our students when he’s home. By popular demand, he joins us each December for performances of ‘Home for the Holidays’ at the Cobb Civic Center’s Anderson Theatre. Each year, he brings the house down with his performance of ‘O Holy Night.’”
Timmerman said he knew immediately that Lattanzi had great talent.
“When Joseph was a fifth-grader at Mableton Elementary School, we invited his choir to be a part of our Annual Holiday Concert at Pebblebrook,” Timmerman said. “That’s when I first met Joseph and heard him sing. (He was a soprano then.) Joseph sang a solo, ‘O Holy Night,’ on the concert. I knew immediately that he had to come to Pebblebrook and that he was destined for a career in the arts.”
Getting accepted into Pebblebrook’s arts program is no easy task. Prospective students’ academic record, attendance record, discipline record, and talent potential are evaluated during the selection. About 300 students from all 24 Cobb County School District middle schools and from home schools and private schools audition for the performing arts magnet program every year, Timmerman said. About 100 students are accepted each year, or one-third of those who audition.
In the arts program, Lattanzi studied under Bradley Howard. The teacher helped Lattanzi hone his voice and grow his appreciation for classical music. As Lattanzi sees it, his time in Pebblebrook’s arts program was the key to his current success.
“(Timmerman) immediately took me under his wing as well,” Lattanzi said. “So I had a really great support system. They encouraged me. … The teachers were willing to spend extra time to work with me and help. Pebblebrook is really an amazing place.”
The young artist says his goal is to travel the world and perform in as many opera houses as possible. He hopes to one day become based with an opera company in the U.S.
Looking back, Lattanzi credits his family, peers and Pebblebrook’s arts program with giving him both the professional tools and the freedom to perform.
“I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family,” Lattanzi said. “My mom and dad make it to everything. I’m just incredibly lucky to have such supportive family. I feel invigorated just talking about it. It’s just a really great feeling.”