THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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Metropolitan Opera Legend Aprile Millo on her London Solo Recital Debut
The American opera star tells The American magazine about bringing her music to Britain
Buy Tickets Here – August 18 - LBCF Young Artist Concert featuring Aprile Millo and Bruce Ford, at The Cadogan Hall, London
Buy Tickets Here – August 21 - Aprile Millo in Concert at The Cadogan Hall, London
Thank you for talking to us Aprile! Can you start by telling us where you're from in the States?
Thank you for asking me! I am from the great state of New York, I live literally on 42nd Street in the immense heart and soul of that great city. I lived my childhood between California and New York.
Your upcoming show at Cadogan Hall will be your first London solo recital. You've been a legend of the Met for some time, why are you making this step now?
Thank you for mentioning my long time association with one of America’s great treasures - the Metropolitan Opera. I arrived there a baby, 21 years old, and enjoyed great success there for over thirty years. I became the leading soprano of their Italian wing and from there sang all over the world, finding great audiences in South America, Germany, France, Japan and especially in Italy, at La Scala and Teatro dell Opera di Roma, Verona - I just received the lifetime achievement award in Busseto, Italy for my singing of Verdi’s music, The Verdi D’Oro, which in its 46 year existence has only been given to 14 people, and I am pinching myself! Tebaldi, Bergonzi, Cappucilli, Siepi, Domingo, Cossotto, Zeffirelli just to name a few, I am in good company! All this to say I never got a chance to sing here in London outside a Verdi Requiem, with Sinopoli and a guest appearance on a gala, though never at Covent Garden. So this recital is my chance to share music with the British public, it is a dream come true. My paternal grandmother is from the United Kingdom, and my paternal grandfather is Irish, so aside from Italian and Russian blood, I have a lot of this beautiful country in me as well.
How are you feeling ahead of the concert? As an American, what's the most exciting aspect of performing in the UK?
Very emotional, and oddly happy! In today’s strange political climate, one thing is without question - the unity and love and respect that America and this American feels for the United Kingdom, a strong, resilient, talented amazing people. Proud, actually, to perform here and greet with open arms a new public.
What music have you selected for the show, and why?
A musical soiree like they used to do. I spoke to bel canto champion, world famous Maestro Richard Bonynge, and he said it is like the recitals they used to give. He thinks it should be a great success. Italian art songs and a few German pieces, a Russian piece and a French ... to honor and remember Dima and then a rare excerpt from a gorgeous Sacred Opera about the patron saint of music, Cecilia. The death and transfiguration of the saint, and it was written by a Priest, Mon. Lincinio Refice for a world famous opera singer Claudia Muzio, here dedicated to my singing teacher who died last year, the amazing Rita Saponaro Patane. Some Irish and English songs with the fabulous Irish harp of Merynda Adams to honor and remember Princess Verne of Rajpipla and her daughter Leslie O’Hara and opera arias from Puccini in memory of my great friend, the granddaughter of Puccini, Simonetta Puccini.
Part of your show will be dedicated to the great Dmitri Hvorostovsky - how important was he to you and the opera world?
He was a Stradivarius, a voice of great beauty and expression. One of the most beautiful I ever heard. A commanding presence, his leave-taking left a void, there aren’t many like him, a great voice and presence and great personality and charisma. His humour was infectious and his love for his music and his family was so profound and I looked on him like a brother, like a musical brother. He and his family are always in my thoughts and prayers.
The show also honors other friends of yours who have recently passed. How important is catharsis through music in honoring those we've lost?
It is showing itself to be more than cathartic... it is also perhaps helping in dementia and Parkinson's and in Alzheimer’s. Music has always allowed us to self-soothe and sometimes, hearing a song, we become time travelers to another time and place. For me, it is a bridge to the other side. A glimpse of paradise we can enjoy before we die. It is universal in its appeal and binds the souls on earth together in a way I wish could be mirrored in every aspect of social unity.
What do you hope visitors to your concert will take away from the experience?
That a random group of people joined together one evening to hear a woman in love with music, and through her voice, share her soul with theirs as they listen to great music as a family. I hope that they have more emotion then they thought they would and that they all come away knowing there is something special in the world. Divine, and inclusive, and that they leave feeling better about life and towards others ... if I can achieve that, I will be more than happy.
What's next on the horizon for you?
More recitals, and Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur in Rio de Janeiro at the historic Theatro Municipal where the audiences are like soccer games cheering for me! We have had a love affair for a long time. Fernando Bicudo is doing great things in Rio ... Masterclasses and mentoring great young talents, like a burgundy colored voice in a Canadian soprano, Maria Vetere, stupendous young voice with real Verdi credentials and a face like a young Elizabeth Taylor, one to really watch out for. Tenor Joel Ricci of Canada, a bel canto tenor of rare beauty; Teiya Kasahara, actress extraordinaire and coloratura voice of beauty, amplitude and excitement; Catherine Wethington of The United States, bell-like, gorgeous toned coloratura of haunting beauty and Stephanie Yelovich, honey-colored Mezzo with coloratura and tonal splendor. An arch of tradition that continues. I am always on the lookout. I started my Operavision Academy in Busseto, Italy in the summer every year, in association with the Renata Tebaldi Fondazione Museo along with Maria Vetere to keep the road safe for young voices to learn the old school techniques and style and walk in history while they create their own! Stay tuned, lots more coming up ...
What's the best thing about being Aprile Millo?
Serving God with my voice, and helping my fellow travelers to seek refuge in sound and harmony. In today’s difficult times, sending beauty and inclusiveness and love into the world is a privilege and a necessity!