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Italy’s ‘Little Pavarotti’ sings in poppo voce October 24, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts, Music.

As he draws a big red loveheart on a boardroom notepad, Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo says he’s not like other singers. He wants to be known as a “popera” singer, a hybrid of popular music and opera, and not a crossover act, which too often means pop singers with classical pretensions.

“I can sing pop, but tomorrow I can sing Rigoletto,” Grigolo said. If they say Vittorio is a crossover singer, they kill all my history; they kill my opera.”

The singer, who prefers to be photographed from his left side, has a keen awareness of his career path. As a 13-year-old he played the small shepherd role in Tosca opposite Luciano Pavarotti; the Italian press later dubbed him il Pavarottino, the little Pavarotti. More recently he turned down an offer to join Il Divo, the operatic boy-band, because he wanted to develop his career as a soloist and in staged opera productions.

Before flying recently to Sydney Grigolo met in the US with tenor and artistic director Placido Domingo, who has booked him to sing in La Boheme in Washington DC and in Cosi fan tutte in Los Angeles. He has Broadway ambitions, too. Grigolo is writing a musical about an opera singer, he will take the lead, and also design and direct, which he intends to stage on the Great White Way.

For now, he’s on a tour to promote his disc of romantic songs called In the Hands of Love. The popera voice, he said, was smooth in tone and yet taut with musical energy throughout a song. “The voice is always the same from beginning to the end,” he said. “It’s not a rough voice and then the tenor voice. It’s always keeping the same tension, not a different sound.”

Pavarotti taught him some valuable lessons about the singer’s art. “He said to me, ‘Study, study, study,”‘ Grigolo said. His first important opera engagement was in Rossini’s The Turk in Italy, and then The Barber of Seville. Next year, he will appear with the Sydney Symphony in a performance of Rossini’s sacred choral work, Stabat Mater. Grigolo’s recording contract stipulates that he be allowed the time to perform in three operas a year. He said the biggest role was always the next one.

“It is always to come,” he said. “The biggest role is the role you have to do in that moment, because your energy has to be concentrated in that moment.”

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