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MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND #33 (article first published : 2007-04-13)

Iíve long been a fan of Italian soprano, Filippa Giordano, from the time I laid my hands (and ears) on her eponymous album, moving on to Il Rosso Amore, and then discovering news of her relocating to a Japanese label to record the marvelous Primadonna. On her first album I was highly intrigued by a contemporary-sounding track (as opposed to the more numerous classic ones), namely Lost Boys Calling, because of the hauntingly poignant lyrics, and a spot of research revealed sheíd recorded this song for the soundtrack to The Legend of 1900, a 1999 Golden Globe winner, and Iím currently hunting out a copy of the film on DVD. I was also enormously impressed to read that sheís one of very few singers able to reach a High E!

A few years on now from the sublime discovery of the Divine Miss G Ė my own moniker for Supreme Soprano Giordano, by the way, and not to take anything away from the Divine Miss M, as in Midler (Bette) - Iíve recently discovered someone who sounds very similar, in the form of Giorgia Fumanti (ironic that the oneís Christian name and the otherís surname contain the same four first letters!) and her album From My Heart once again includes some superb classics but also a few highly pleasant surprises.

Though this ravishing Italian-born soprano still insists her talent is only a gift, itís one she's eager to share at every opportunity. Comparisons have been made to artists such as Enya and also Andrea Bocelli because she, too, deftly straddles the line between pop and classical. But from the start, Giorgia Fumanti sought to put a uniquely personal stamp on her music, favouring an eclectic group of composers, from Sting to Italian film music master Ennio Morricone, who she evidently adores because he draws from both pop and classical traditions. The most important thing in a song is whether it fills me with emotion, sheís been known to say, and Morriconeís music is perfect for that. So perfect, in fact, she included four Morricone classics for the line-up of this album, including themes from The Mission, Cinema Paradiso, and Once Upon a Time in the West. She herself translated the lyrics of Sting's Fields of Gold for her stunning acoustic-flavored rendition of Campi d'Oro.

Iíve mentioned previously that Iím a HUGE fan of Secret Garden and was fascinated to read that Barbra Streisand enjoyed Heartstrings, from their very first album, Songs from a Secret Garden), so much that she decided it would make the PERFECT song for her wedding day, and with added lyrics by Ann Hampton-Calloway she called her version Iíve Dreamed of You. Iíve read that a completely new version was recently born with Italian lyrics, to be recorded by Welsh mezzo-soprano, Katherine Jenkins, about whom I wrote not long ago. But here on Giorgiaís album she herself pays tribute to Barbra with a beautiful rendering of this number (with English lyrics).

Giorgia often talks about dreaming, and perhaps it serves as a metaphor for the feeling she hopes to convey with her music. It certainly reflects her lifelong sense of purpose. Her parents hoped their daughter might become a lawyer or go into the family mercantile business Ė but that was not to be. Right from the time when her grandmother would sing her lullabies, music pierced Giorgia's heart. However, it wasn't until her mid-teens, when she was invited to join the church choir, that she had any inkling she could sing herself.

To please her mother and father, Giorgia did give law school a try, coming within two exams of a law degree. She also devoted much of her time to working with disabled children in her hometown. Around the same time she began a period of introspection, which included practicing Reiki, yoga, and meditation, of which she remarks that it helped her listen to her heart and soul, and make the decision to concentrate seriously on music. Thus she enrolled in the highly esteemed Conservatorio di Parma Arrigo Boito, gaining much from the rigorous classical training yet sensing still that opera was not for her. She relates that was the first time she really took life into her own hands, remarking that in Italy there is only classical study, therefore she studied technique, and took from that what she needed.

In 2002 she met artist manager, Maurice Velenosi, who immediately picked up on Giorgia's potential and offered to take her on but insisted she relocated to Montreal. Though she found it painful to leave her family, Giorgia took the gamble and moved to Canada, and is quoted as saying that it was beautiful because she was able to think only about music from that point on.

In 2004, she recorded her debut independent CD, Like a Dream, an album that featured Giorgia's take on the music of Vangelis. This was her opening salvo in the World Music arena and brought her widespread acclaim, so that within a year major labels were courting her.

As focused as she is on music, her other great passion is for helping others. She is today the World Ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Association of Quebec, doing what she can to increase awareness of the condition. Yet music remains in the forefront of her sights and she looks forward to the challenges and rewards ahead. She tells of how, when she was a child, if people enquired what she wanted to do when she grew up she would say sheíd like to become a missionary: now her dream is to be a missionary through her music, and share with people all the emotions that she says music make her feel.

Someone else to whom dreams are important is a young South African lass named Danielle and indeed her debut album is titled simply Danielle: Dreams but the great delight for me was not simply to discover her international standard voice but the fact that renowned SA guitarist, Tessa Ziegler, accompanies her on every marvelous track, the music ranging from an ABBA classic to a Streisand standard, to an interpretation of a Shania Twain number, a SUPERB version of Josh Grobanís Remember When It Rained, through to a couple of instrumental icons in the form of Bachís Air on a G-String and Mozartís Clarinet Concerto, where she provides wordless vocal accompaniment. I sense here an immensely promising talent!

In conclusion, a brief mention of the follow-up album to Celtic Woman in the form of that groupís delightful and diverse A New Journey, where these five immensely talented (and beautiful) young lasses have now been joined by the equally talented and lovely New Zealander, Hayley Westenra. So there we have it: the famous five have turned into the superb six. Go out and get this album: itís a winner!

And as itís the time of year for a change of season I feel a yearning to take a listen now to Vivaldiís Four Seasons Ė Spring, and itís the Allegro, Danza pastorale that Iím popping into my player this very second. Till next time! - Bev Pulť




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