Who or what inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?
As far as I can remember I have always sung and I always loved opera and classical music, which is a surprising fact as I have no musicians in my family. I fell in love with the power of music and the joy of experiencing singing harmonies when I was in my school choir at 8 years old. A few years later, I was hooked on every opera I could watch on TV and trying to imitate the opera singers. Zerlina’s arias and duets from Mozart’s Don Giovanni were my first attempts to sing opera. Although music was my real passion I didn’t really know it could be my profession. I grew up in a small town in the South of Brazil and I didn’t have a lot of contact with professional opera singers there. So I decided to follow my other passion for a while and started a degree in Architecture to try and go for the ‘safe’ option. After two years it became very clear to me that I could not live without music so my real journey started and I have never looked back.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Every artist’s journey is filled with amazing people who can certainly shape and inspire us. Luckily, they continue to appear in our lives. One of my my first big influences and source of great inspiration was Maria Callas. I remember being very impressed with her immense artistic craft, dedication and powerful emotion while singing.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I believe the greatest challenge for any artist is to find their individual voice and to trust it! It took me a long time to truly believe in my own voice and have the courage to speak out. When I first arrived in the UK I tried really hard to blend in, and as you can imagine, that would never work.
At this point in my career I believe that my job as a singer is to respect the music and work with my most intense dedication to integrate my voice into the composer’s voice so the communication of the original intention can happen. Criticism and praise come and go in our lives and we should try our best not to be devastated by the first, nor to boast with the second.
We are in a stage of constant development as human beings and this will always be reflected in how we express ourselves.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I feel proud every time I feel that I truly connect with the audience; it doesn’t really matter how big or small the concert hall or how many people are there. To be able to touch people through music is the most powerful feeling and if I manage to touch one person, that would already be worth it. Most recently, I am very happy for being able to record one of my favourite pieces by Barbara Strozzi, Che si può fare, which features on my latest CD Affetti Barocchi. The whole piece worked so well with the ensemble, which responded so honestly to my interpretation of this poignant powerful work. Moments like that always stay in my mind.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
I am Brazilian with Italian and Jewish ancestors, so drama is in my veins! I love performing 17th-century Baroque because music from that period simply demands powerful emotionally-charged expression and gives me the freedom to make it my own. Equally I am fascinated by opera and the bravura arias from 18th century masters Vivaldi, Handel, Broschi, etc.. This repertoire really fascinates me as it combines impressive coloraturas – almost treating the voice as an extra instrument – combined with intense drama. Luckily I am a coloratura soprano, although I promise you these are not ‘easy for me’!
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I always joke that I would need a much longer life to be able to sing everything that I am interested in. My journey with the project Donne, Women in Music has made this task even harder as I keep discovering amazing music on a daily basis. It’s really incredible. Practically, my repertoire choices are a combination of what I am hired to do and my personal projects.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
For me, concerts venues are all about the audience and the energy that happens. It can be someone’s living room or the Wigmore Hall; nothing beats the magical feeling of real communication through music.
Who are your favourite musicians?
I have so many! It almost feels wrong to name them as I will certainly miss a lot of people. But off the top of my head: Ella Fitzgerald, Joyce DiDonato, Cecilia Bartoli, Gabriela Montero, Jordi Savall, André Previn, Fred Mercury, Maria Callas, Chiquinha Gonzaga, Ilse Weber… the list goes on…
What is your most memorable concert experience?
For me, every concert is a memorable experience. I feel so privileged to be able to do something that is my true passion and that allows me to connect with people through music. This is a feeling that very few people can experience and I am very grateful for it and will always try my very best to make every performance as special as I can.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To move and inspire people with my music.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Do it because you can’t live without doing it; be resilient; work with your utmost dedication; be resilient; find your own voice and remember that the most important thing is not you but the music; inspire others on your way!
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
On stage, bringing music closer to people. As well as that, I would also like to be in a position that allows me to use my skills to inspire others, promote equality and create platforms that can help people to believe that they all belong.
Winner of the “ Air Europa Classical Act of the Year Award 2013”, lyric coloratura soprano Gabriella Di Laccio enjoys an international career that spans the genres of opera, oratorio and chamber music.
Especially known for her virtuoso voice and much sought after in Baroque music she is also a devoted a performer of Contemporary repertoire. Bringing freshness to older music and authority to new, Gabriella brings intensity to her performance, which transcends the traditional boundaries of classical music, introducing new and exuberant flavour and charisma.
Recognized by Sir Charles Mackerrras as “a singer of outstanding talent”, Miss Di Laccio has gained notice over the past years due to her expressive tone, impressive coloraturas and powerful stage presence. Her recent performances of Vivaldi and Handel arias have established her as an artist of finest musical intelligence who handles intense technical challenges of the music with seeming ease, precision and great personality.
Artist photo: Anatole Kaplouch