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August 8, 2010

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Shy Italian girl who skyrocketed to stardom

SOPRANO Giorgia Fumanti (below), internationally renowned singer of operatic pop, grew up in a small Italian village and at first studied law because her parents said a singing career was too risky.

But when she and others discovered her rich soprano voice in a church choir, she decided to follow her heart -- music.

Fumanti gave an impressive solo concert on July 26 at Shanghai Concert Hall, with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Italy Pavilion's cultural program for the World Expo.

Fumanti, who is around 35, rose spectacularly to international stardom with her amazing soprano voice, wowing audiences with her delicate blend of classical opera and modern pop.

During her seven-year career, she has given at least 50 concerts a year but she cannot be characterized as only a famous singer -- she is also a yoga master, a social worker, almost a lawyer, and for the past year, a mother.Q: How do you feel about your extraordinary success? Was it destiny, skill, or luck?

A: My success as a singer is just one of the many beautiful gifts that life has given me. I have traveled all over the world, met all sorts of wonderful people, and sung in front of huge audiences. These are things I would not have even imagined as a young, shy Italian girl. If you have talent in anything, as long as you focus and work on it, destiny will make something happen.

Q: You almost completed a law degree before deciding on singing. Why did you change?

A: I studied law at my parents' advice. It was good advice, and I followed it. But I felt sad and confused while studying, because I was not pursuing my true passion: music, which has always been a part of my life.

When I was a child, my parents were not around a lot due to work, so my grandmother took care of me. I still remember her beautiful voice, and the beautiful Italian melodies she sang. She inspired me to audition for my church choir, and to become the singer that I am today.

It was in that choir I discovered I had this rich soprano voice, much to my surprise. It was this passion I could not ignore in law school, and I couldn't balance school with a singing career. I had to focus all my energy on music!

Q: How have your family and friends reacted to your success? Do people treat you as a regular person or a superstar?

A: Everybody I grew up with back in Italy is so proud of me. They're so proud and happy that one of them, from a small-town Italy, could be known internationally as a singer, traveling all over the world to represent them.

Whenever I go back to visit, everyone will stop and say hi to me on the street, and ask how I have been and what I've been doing. They still treat me as the young, shy girl that grew up there. In many ways, I still am that shy girl. That's why so many were so surprised when I became so successful.

The sad part, though, is that I am away so much that I cannot have an everyday relationship with the family and friends I grew up with. At least I have my new family with me -- my husband, who is also my manager, and my one-year-old baby, Crystal. She has already been on 50 or more plane rides.

Q: This is your fourth visit to Shanghai, representing Italy at the Expo. What's your impression?

A: It's a beautiful place, I love it. I was only here for weeks at a time before. I hope I can stay longer and experience the city more. It seems that whenever I come back, the city changes. Now there are so many more buildings, and the air is nicer and cleaner and the sky is bluer.

Q: You sang the Expo theme song "Better City, Better Life," along with China's renowned baritone Liao Chang Yong. What was it like?

A: It was a beautiful experience. I was eight months pregnant, but Liao Changyong had such a beautiful, elegant voice and personality that it was so easy to sing and perform with him. I was so happy because I could perform with the famous baritone, and because was singing with me too.


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