WeiLong Tao

WeiLong Tao sings Pagliacci: Vesti la giubba

The dramatic tenor WeiLong Tao was born in Hefei near Shanghai. He graduated from the Shanghai conservatory, and went on to study further at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and the Juilliard Opera Center, New York. He won the Palm Springs International Vocal Competition, the Los Angeles Opera Buffs Competition and was a finalist at the Metropolitan National Auditions.

In 1991, he came to Europe as member of International Opera Studio Zürich. He then made a 20-year-plus career in Europe: Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovakia, Netherlands, Finland, Great Britain, Greece, at more than 40 opera houses. He started as a baritone, and then switched to dramatic tenor. (As with so many singers who went from baritone to tenor, I'm not convinced that he did himself a favor; to my ears, he seems more at ease in baritone key.) His official biography doesn't list any places; I found him in Koblenz (where he was a troupe member at least from 1997 to 1999), in Pforzheim as Chénier (2004/05), in Ludwigsburg (Verdi's Requiem, 2007), Coburg (Otello, 2011) or Bratislava (Otello, 2011).

According to his biography, La Scala hired him as a Calaf cover in 2008, but that's impossible since Turandot wasn't given at La Scala that year; he may have had his cover contract in 2000, 2003, 2010 or 2014.

His Chinese debut took place only in February 2008, as Otello (his most important part) in Shanghai. He also appeared in Singapore, the USA and Canada.

In October 2008, he made his Czech debut as Hoffmann in Ústí nad Labem, for which he won the Czech Thalia Prize 2008 ("Best Opera Singer"). From then on, he sang a lot in the Czech Republic: in Ostrava, České Budějovice, at the Český Krumlov festival and at the Prague State Opera (Gaston in Weber's Die drei Pintos, 2011/12).

His repertory included, in his baritone years, Rigoletto, Iago, Escamillo, Valentin, Mozart's Figaro, Leporello, Sprecher, Tonio, Onegin, Renato or Enrico; in his tenor years, other than the roles already mentioned, Tannhäuser, Tristan, Max, Turiddu, Manrico, Radames, Don Carlo, Don José, Rodolfo, Cavaradossi, Luigi, Maurizio or Canio. In concert, he sang Das Lied von der Erde, for instance, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, or Dvořák's Stabat mater.

In 2018, he made his doctorate at the Ohio State University; his thesis "From baritone to tenor. Making the switch" was built on the theories of Richard Miller. The same year, he joined the conservatory in Zhejiang, where he was head of the opera department, and a much respected teacher.

Picture source and reference 1; reference 2; reference 3; reference 4: Oper & Tanz, May 2005; reference 5; reference 6; reference 7; reference 8; reference 9: Pravda (Bratislava), 25 October 2011; reference 10: Národní divadlo Prague archives, reference 11, reference 12, reference 13

Many thanks to Jiyu Chen for preparing the material for this page.
Tao as a baritone

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