For tenor Matthew Polenzani, the awards just keep coming. Last year, Polenzani won the Metropolitan Opera's prestigious Beverly Sills Artist Award. It is the most recent accolade earned by the tenor considered to be among the most gifted of his generation.
But opera was the last thing on the music education major's mind when he came to Charleston after earning the scholarship that allowed him to enroll at Eastern rather than at his local community college. When Professor Jerry Daniels handed him a tape of arias during his first semester, Polenzani tossed it in a box and forgot about it until his senior year. The first voice he heard when he finally played the tape was that of José Carreras, singing the role of Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca.
The rest is history for the artist who, after earning a master's degree from Yale, made his debut at the Met in 1997. Highlights of his career include performing the parts of Edgardo at Paris' Bastille Opera, Nemorino in L'Elisir d'Amore, and Don Ottavio at Vienna State Opera. His current schedule includes performances at the Met as Alfredo in La Traviata, Roméo in Roméo et Juliette, and Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.