Meet The Person Behind The Voice: Soprano Roberta Mameli

By Alan Neilson

Italian soprano Roberta Mameli recently finished a run of performances in the title role of Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea,” a part which lies close to her heart.

OperaWire met up with her for a short chat to find out more about the person behind the voice.

OperaWire: What was the first opera you saw? 

Roberta Mameli: I was seven or eight when I saw “La Boheme” at my local theater in my Piacenza.

OW: Can you remember what your thoughts were about the experience?

RM: I remember being fascinated by everything I saw and heard: by the staging, by the story and, of course, by the singing.

OW: Name three people, alive or dead, who you would like to invite to a dinner party, of whom at least one has to have a connection with opera. 

RM: Claudio Abbado, Maria Callas and Oscar Wilde.

OW: Why did you choose Maria Callas? 

RM: Maria Callas is someone I feel very close to. When I was young, I used to listen to her recordings. She wasn’t perfect, and for me, this is what made her great. Perfection is boring. Imperfection can be magic. She had a fire inside her, and this is what made her special.

OW: What is your favorite film? 

RM: “The Silence of the Lambs.”

OW: What is your favorite piece of non-classical music? 

RM: I love Edith Piaf and so did my mother, so it would be one of her songs, maybe “La Vie en Rose.”

OW: If you had not been an opera singer, what career would you have followed? 

RM: There are three careers I would have liked to have followed. One would have been a chemistry professor, and the second would have been a psychologist, which is why I like “The Silence of the Lambs” so much. The third is an Egyptologist.

OW: What book are you reading at the moment?

RM: “Troppo fiera, troppo fragile” by Alfonso Signorini. It is a book about Maria Callas.

OW: Who is your favorite painter?

RM: Monet.

OW: If you happened to be a radio talkshow host, who would you like to interview?

 RM: Maria Callas.

OW: What is your favorite food?

RM: Asian food, particularly Japanese food. Over a ten-year period, I used to travel there three or four times a year and developed a taste for it. When I am at home and have time, I cook Japanese food.

I also love Kabuki and Japanese Noh theatre. It is not like Western theater, so you have to be prepared for something very different.

OW: Which country that you have never been to would you most like to visit?

RM: I love the sea because my father came from Sardinia, and this would be the perfect place for me. However, if I have to choose somewhere I have never visited, then I would choose somewhere in Southeast Asia, maybe Malaysia or Indonesia.

OW: What book are you reading at the moment? 

RM: “Troppo fiera, troppo fragile” by Alfonso Signorini. It is a book about Maria Callas.

OW: You have just finished playing the role of Poppea. Name two adjectives to describe her character.

RM: Fragile and noble.

OW: Did you enjoy playing the role? 

RM: Yes.

OW: Is she like you as a person?

RM: I hope so.


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