Singing has always been my biggest passion! Although I didn’t need to sing my sorries away,  I used to sing all time: at home, at nursery and later at school (all playground breaks were spent playing Mini Chuva de Estrelas – Talent Show broadcasted on Portuguese TV), at anniversary parties, at Christmas and New Year, at Sunday School and in the church choir.  Exception made for Barbie’s chalet, Sony’s radio recorder with microphone which my parents offered me was the best present ever!

At the age of ten, I went to a music school where I learned to play organ with two hands – till then I just played using one hand since it was enough to play the melodies I memorized by ear and wrote in some graph paper.

Unfortunately – or not! -, I engaged in Letters and almost at the end of the course I decided to attend Orfeão Universitário do Porto – a centenary institution from Universidade do Porto which dedicates itself to promote Portuguese traditional culture. I contacted the Choir and became an assiduous and dedicated choralist.

It was in one of these concerts with the Choir that the idea of starting Singing Lessons came up. I used to end the concerts with my voice tired. Was it due to making too much effort? Was it because of not controlling the volume of my voice emission when speaking with other choralists in the after-concert meetings? Was it because of not containing my happiness  about singing and instead of resting, keep laughing and telling jokes immediately after concerts? Maybe the combination of many factors.

After a concert with the Choir, João Miguel Gonçalves warned me about the fact that my voice was becoming different. God bless him! He asked me why was I kind of “aphonic”. And with all naturality I answered that it was normal by the end of concerts. “Have you thought about Singing lessons?” he asked. “If you keep going like that you may end up having to go to therapy; and since you like to sing you can combine business with pleasure.”  My eyes got wide open and a big smile came into my face. That would be something to think about!

One year later I met João again in another concert. The same scenery. Shame on me for not having been looking for help until then! I really had to think about that! No need for a third time.

“Jazz or opera?” asked me Joaninha (the one who is strong – Valente is her last name and in Portuguese valente means strong. And thank God, as putting up with me is not easy!!!). It is interesting to think about the fact that till then I had never heard an entire opera aria but my heartbeat was not the same when listening to jazz. I should try to sing opera. After a while listening to “contract your muscles”, “raise the palate”, “relax the jaw” and “align the column” I finally got to reproduce a minimally decent sound. Although minimal it was enough for me to fall in love. I knew at that moment that I wanted to live in that world – the Opera Singing World.

by Anita Silva

Soprano and Language Teacher; Assiduous presence in concerts.