1. What was the first piece(s) you learned? Was it inevitable you would be a singer as a consequence of your early tuition?
Although I have always enjoyed singing since I was very young, I didn’t really think at that point that I would become a professional Classical singer. I went to a Catholic School from the age of 6 and I was a very active member of the School. At home we used to sing songs whist my mother played the guitar but it was never classical music and it was always in a relaxed environment.
The first proper “classical” piece I ever sang was “Caro Mio Ben” by Giuseppe Giordiano. I was 16 years old and had just started proper Classical Singing lessons. At that point I started to realise how much I enjoyed singing and it became quite clear to me that this was something very close to my heart.
2. Is your family musical?
There are no musicians whatsoever in my family. We were all very musical people in the sense that there was music in the house and they wouldn’t complain if I was singing along to something all of the time. But there was no emphasis on Classical Music or Opera – so that side is still a mystery to all of us, because from a very young age I started to get more and more interested in this repertoire. We didn’t live in a big city and there were not many Opera Productions for us to go and see. So I used to rely on TV programmes – one in particular called “International Concerts” where I could watch Opera performances from the Metropolitan Opera House, Covent Garden and La Scala. I used to try and sing along with the singers (not very successfully at the age of 10) while watching them on TV and I remember being completely taken by the whole thing.
3. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
It would be very difficult to name all the musicians I admire as the list is too long. I can mention a few but I am sure I will miss many…
Maria Callas – one of the most iconic sopranos of our time. I admire her drive, her passion and her dedication to the roles she took during her career, her perfect combination of acting and singing, and the fact that you can feel so much emotion by just listening to her performances instead of watching. She would lose herself completely to the music when she was performing and give herself 100% to the role she acted at that moment. Certainly an inspiration to any singer!
Ella Fitzgerald – I simply love Jazz and Ella Fitzgerald for me is the perfect singer for this type of music. She had the most beautiful voice tone, the smooth swing, the facility and total geniality on scatting and improvisation as well as being a complete passionate performer.
Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobin – Showing my Brazilian roots, I couldn’t forget two of the greatest composers, musicians, poets of all time. Vinicius de Moraes poems are just the too beautiful to describe, and on top of that he wrote lyrics in partnership with someone as talented as Tom Jobim, creating some of the most beautiful songs in Brazilian Music history. I admire their talent and instinct for portraying love in so many poetic songs.
Juan Diego Flórez and Renée Fleming and Plácido Domingo – I thought I should include some people who are still alive on my list. I admire these singers simply because they are just extremely talented and gifted and a total joy to listen and watch. I love Juan Diego’s pure sound and his charisma, not to mention the absolute control of the coloraturas. I simply adore listening to Renée Fleming’s warm and captivating voice. Everything she sings she does beautifully and she is also a fantastic actress and a very dedicated musician. They are both extremely good musicians as well as singers. Everything they perform is accurate in style and musical sense, which makes them so perfect and complete musicians.
Plácido Domingo – What can I say? Just totally wonderful. The man is a total master when it comes to being a complete singer. To be able to have such a long and brilliant career is something any musician desires deeply inside. But to have it with such great quality in every aspect as Mr Domingo does is something that has my total admiration!
4. How does music tuition and appreciation differ in Brazil versus England? Do you have preferences?
You can find great music tuition as well as renowned musicians and tutors in Brazil. The main difference would be the amount of support music tuition and Culture gets from the Government in general.
As Brazil is a country with many social problems, it’s sometimes difficult for the majority of the population to have access to Classical Music, get close to it and appreciate it. But despite the difficulties there are extremely talented musicians in Brazil making the Classical Music Scenario grow every day.
Living in London is an extremely rich experience in terms of culture. It is such a privilege to be able to find so many different types of art in the same City and that is really priceless!
5. What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?
I have three very fond memories:
Getting my first “tape cassette player” at the age of 5. At that moment in my life my biggest idol was a girl who was about 8 years old called Nikka Costa. Her father was a producer and a musician and had connections with people in the music business and he had done a whole album with his daughter singing great Jazz Songs with beautiful arrangements. I could only listen to the songs on the radio though…. So getting my own cassette player (and Nikka Costa’s tape of course) meant I could now sing along all the time, which I certainly did as I can still remember the songs.
My first “serious performance as a soloist”. The first at my sister‘s University graduation ceremony: her class was looking for a Classical singer to perform 2 songs at the end of the ceremony. I was 19 at the time and managed to “get the part”. It was a wonderful feeling to perform in front of more than 500 people and I believe it was then I decided I couldn’t live without singing. Later on that year I got a part in my first Opera singing Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to play a role instead of just singing in concerts. I had always been passionate about performing Opera as I love the combination of acting and singing and the fact that you can bring so many different emotions when playing different characters.
At the end of one of my concerts in London, a lady came to talk to me. She was in tears and had a handicapped daughter who had also come to the concert. She was very emotional as apparently she has never seen her daughter so happy so she wanted to thank me. I don’t think I could have a better feeling or a better compliment than that. Moments like that just makes this career a great blessing!
6. Can you introduce the Camerata of Curitiba – Opera and Concert touring group with whom you performed in Brazil, to us?
Sure, the Camerata of Curitiba is based in the Capital of one the Southern States in Brazil – Paraná. It consists of 16 singers (4 sopranos, 4 contraltos, 4 tenors and 4 bass/baritones) and a Chamber Orchestra (around 20 instrumentalists.) The group is subsidised by the Government and this allows them to have a very rich concert diary as well as tour projects throughout the year.
I started singing with them when I was 22 years old and it was a fantastic opportunity as in 5 years I had the chance to perform in many different cities in Brazil as well as to learn and develop an extended repertoire. Every singer in the group was a soloist and we would perform different styles of music under the direction of renowned Brazilian conductors as well as International ones. It was this way that I met an English Conductor, Mr Gerard Galloway, who was very supportive and who suggested I should go to London and study at the Royal College of Music.
7. What advice would you give to those who wish to embark on a professional concert music career?
First of all you must love music and what it brings to people and to yourself. That should be the main reason for starting a career as a musician. After that, extreme dedication, discipline and the ability to keep going and believing in yourself. Of course, a certain amount of talent is required, but a talented artist with no passion or discipline will find very difficult to survive in the music world.
Always continue learning, no matter at what stage you are in your career. As an artist, we deal with rejection and critics on a daily basis so it is very important to stay strong and remember that one person’s opinion is simply that – one person’s opinion! And that should never take the place of the absolute truth. Always try to stay true to yourself, to music in its deeper sense and to what you believe. Be patient and keep going, there are rewards for those who persevere.
8. How often and for how long do you practice?
I try to practise every day during the week and it takes about two hours each time.
9. Do you or would you like to teach music?
I do teach singing and it’s a great experience. You always learn when you teach others and on top of that it is a wonderful experience to be able to help people to achieve their musical goals. It’s amazing how many people say to me “I wish I could sing” when they first meet me. Music can bring so much to people and it is very rewarding to see improvement and changes in people’s lives.
10. You are a founder member of Baroque Ensemble Il Festino. Can you tell us when this was formed and introduce the fellow performers to us?
Il Festino was formed when I was still at the Royal College of Music in 2003. The main idea was to explore the lesser known repertoire from Spain and South America as well as bringing a unique perspective to the interpretation of music from Medieval, Renascence, Baroque periods (and beyond). People sometimes have a stereotype idea about Early Music as being “boring” so we aim to prove them wrong. As the name Il Festino comes from a piece by Adriano Banchieri where he combined for the first time musicians and actors, creating small stories in each piece; we use this idea as an inspiration when putting programmes together, trying to tell different stories every time and using our different backgrounds to bring a lively and interesting performance. Il Festino has different programmes and the number of musicians will vary accordingly. It is a great pleasure to work with some great talented people. Please have a look at our website so you can get to know a bit more: www.il-festino.com
11. Do you compose? What inspires you?
I would feel a bit pretentious calling the very little “music experiments” I have compositions. But I have been thinking more and more about that. Inspiration comes from life in general, moments and people you meet. Sometimes a scene you see in the underground on your way home, or a difficult situation you have to go through in your life. I believe a composition should come from the heart so the most important thing is to find the time to listen it to it – which sometimes is quite hard on today’s modern life.
12. Do you listen to ‘world music’, how wide is you taste in music genres?
My appreciation for music is quite wide and I love many different genres of music. As I mentioned before I love Jazz, especially the “old fashion” era of Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, etc. Being Brazilian I certainly have a soft spot for Bossa Nova ; but I also listen to some pop music. I grew up listening to U2, Queen, The Police, and still keep my “unclassical” side proudly. I am normally captivated by good lyrics and rich harmonies no matter the music genre. If you have a good singer to complete the equation even better!
13. Do you have future projects in the pipeline?
Apart from my singing and teaching commitments I am now working on the launch of a new Charity that is very close to my heart. It’s something I have been thinking about for many years and hopefully it should get started very soon. The main idea is to help to advance, develop and improve the quality of life of street children as well as vulnerable and deprived children and young people in Brazil by creating a local free of charge musical education project which can bring education, emotional support and inspiration these kids need in order to transform their lives.
I know that there are many groups raising money to help providing food, building hospitals and shelter for many people in Brazil. But what I really would like to do is to bring music close to these children; to make studying music a reality and helping them to have more hope in their lives, which sometimes has very little moments of happiness.
The approach is to raise funds and awareness in the UK through the presentation of public concerts and recitals and use the money raised during the concerts to help Music Projects in Brazil.
We can see what these kids can achieve when we come across the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. The project called El Sistema - that started in Venezuela in 1975 - is a state foundation which watches over Venezuela's 125 youth orchestras and the instrumental training programs which make them possible. Internationally acclaimed conductor, Gustavo Dudamel is a result of this program. Born in Venezuela he had the chance to study music due to the efforts and dreams of one man who started the whole program. And now we can see how far music has takes him! I know that creating something similar in Brazil is a very big dream to be achieved and I also know I have to start small for the time being, but I believe if each of us would do something small like this, the world could be a better place so I hope this will helps to make a small difference in the lives of the children of Brazil. And I hope music will keep their hearts alive, inspired confident that they can achieve anything they want in life if they stay in the right path and out of the streets where life that can take them to a world of drugs and sometimes violent behaviour.