Giorgia Fumanti: Crossover Soprano

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

by Mélissa Brien and Dino Spaziani

We hear of those super-women who sail through life, juggling family and work with ease. Well, the Italian-Canadian soprano Giorgia Fumanti is proof that such women really do exist. This mother to four children and star of crossover classical music has chosen Canada as her home.

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Music was always a part of Fumanti’s childhood in Italy, but she only began singing seriously at 16, when she joined a choir and found she had a natural aptitude.

“I sincerely believe that music saved my life from the start. I was born in Tuscany in the village of Fivizzano. My grandmother sang at weddings. Having experienced two wars, she turned to music as an escape. When I was young I fell ill and she came to see me in hospital, where she would sing me to sleep. I think she helped me recover. My father ran a loudspeaker business and there was a listening booth where we’d hear Barbra Streisand all the time. I like her very much,” Fumanti said.

Photo: Mario Aragon

“Later, at about 16, I joined a church choir and discovered my natural soprano voice. The choirmaster gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. I was able to listen to La Vergine degli Angeli by Verdi and reproduce it a capella. People asked how I was able to do it and I could only say, ‘I don’t know’.”

As a young adult she decided to pursue her vocal studies, having earlier decided to take a more conventional path on the advice of her family. Her meeting in 2002 with producer Maurice Velenosi was a determining factor in her career and personal life.

“My parents didn’t think I could make a living from it, so I studied law at the University of Parma, which is where the Conservatorio di Musica Arrigo Boito is. This acclaimed conservatoire is one of the oldest in Italy. Anyway, I took the exams and was accepted. It was a dream come true, a gift, but I was going to have to work hard.

“My career took a leap forward when I met my manager, now my husband, Maurice Velenosi. I met him in Italy. He heard a demo I’d done for Zucchero, and it was he who did the arrangements of Miserere for Andrea Bocelli. That’s an essential piece in the crossover world.”


Fumanti said she “wouldn’t have thought of coming to live in Canada. In Italy you don’t just leave your family. At the same time, I knew I had to do something with this voice of mine … so when I had my first child, I chose Canada. We were travelling across the world, but I wanted to give birth in Quebec. I did think of Asia, but the call of the Laurentians was stronger.” She now lives in Saint-Sauveur. Although she loves Quebec, the path to finding her place as an immigrant and as a Québécois artist in the eyes of the public was longer and harder than she’d imagined.

“It took years for me to feel I belonged,” she said. “My audiences are very francophone and I feel they respect me. They know I have a lot of respect for Quebec and the French language, while also being aware that I have an international perspective. It’s quite an experience, being an immigrant, and sometimes I feel ignored. But I know that audiences see beyond that—one’s heart sees beyond that.”


It’s tempting to label Fumanti as a classical, opera or pop artist, but the truth is, her music incorporates all of these in a combination she has made her own. Her talent for possessing the songs she chooses to sing has made her one of the most recognized artists of crossover classical music in the world, and has taken her to perform on five continents. From Verdi to Sting, Ravel to Cohen, as well as Brel, Morricone, Streisand and Ferland, Fumanti chooses her wide-ranging repertoire herself.

Photo: Claude Charlebois

“Film music attracts me. I like to sing Once Upon a Time in the West. I love the soprano voice with its lows and highs; it’s sublime. As well as Morricone, I’ve sung Vangelis and John Williams. This sort of universal music has allowed me to sing all over the world and work with artists like Lang Lang in China and the United States, and John McDermott in Canada. I’ve sung with José Carreras in Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan. I’m free to choose songs from musicals, films and Disney cartoons, which are lovely. With Carreras I did Libiamo from La Traviata. But my style is pop opera, real crossover.”

Despite her soprano voice and her singing talent, Fumanti has never tried opera. She prefers to sing in her own way with room to manœuvre and to mix styles with the agility she demonstrates so well.

“Opera parts frighten me a bit,” she said. “You have to give yourself totally to a part, and I’m wilder—more rebellious. I need to follow the emotion of the moment. I need to relax my mind and follow my instinct. Opera is something else. I’ve been frightened of being cornered in certain parts and having to perform them throughout my career. Appearing on stage transforms me, and so it’s a flight from the everyday. My escape is the stage.”

She is particularly popular in Asia, where audiences are open to her crossover style and where the traditional repertoire suits her soft singing. In 2009 she performed a duet with the popular Chinese baritone Liao Changyong, singing the theme song for the Shanghai Universal Expo. During The Travel of Sound, her 2017 tour of China, she performed at the Guangzhou Opera.

“Pop opera allows me to work in all sorts of situations. I’ve been lucky enough to do several tours and a lot of television (in China). These programs have huge viewing numbers, over a hundred million, which is very impressive. I’ve learned traditional, ancient songs in Chinese and Tibetan. I found there were similarities between these and what I normally sing. If I’d had an opera career with one, two, or three parts, I don’t think I’d have been able to tour Asia, Africa and Russia.” She hopes to return to perform in China when the COVID restrictions there are lifted.


When she arrived in Quebec, Fumanti was charmed by Montreal. The French-speaking city fascinated her with its openness to the world and its diversity: “I fell in love with the multicultural side of it while in some spots feeling I was actually in France. I loved the different neighbourhood —Indian, Asian, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, etc. The whole world in one city!”

She made an effort to learn French, “even though it’ll never be perfect. My children are in a French school and they teach me, correct me and make fun of my mistakes and accent.” But she has mastered it well enough to create a francophone repertoire, and in 2018 recorded the album Amour, containing essential classics from French and Quebec pop.

Photo: Daniel Daignault

“I hesitated at first. I can read and understand the texts, but often I’m not aware of my accent and mistakes. I don’t want to massacre these beautifully-written songs. And I find it hard to get the pronunciation right in the high notes.”

Her love for her adopted land is expressed in the 2019 album Aimons-nous, which includes a moving version of Un peu plus haut by Jean-Pierre Ferland. “I wanted to sing popular Québécois songs like Un peu plus haut, L’essentiel, Si Dieu existe, Aimons-nous. Lovely, inspiring texts that allow my voice to soar—that’s a fundamental need, the soaring lyricism.”


VIDEO: Cinema Paradiso
Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group, From my Heart, Release 01-01- 2006.
Composer: Ennio Morricone
Composer Lyricist: Alessio De Sensi
Composer Lyricist: Andrea Morricone.

VIDEO: Dawn of a new century
Album “Mystic” –
2022 Velenosi Entertainment
Directed by Stefano Galante /
Narrating voice / Victor Rani Stetie
Video assistant / Barbara D’Angeli
When she met Morricone, he told that her voice was going to get better with age.

Giorgia Fumanti will perform Christmas classics from Dec. 3 to 17 in a series of concerts entitled Magie de Noël.

  • Dec. 3, Domaine Roman, Berthierville, 514-296-8538.
  • Dec. 11, 2 p.m., Mont-Tremblant with Alexandre Da Costa and Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil
  • Dec. 17, 8 p.m., Saint-Sauveur with the Choir of Académie Lafontaine, 450-227-2423
  • Dec. 18, Trois-Rivières, Notre Dame du Cap – Free concert
  • She will also perform on Dec. 26 to 31 as part of the concert Parapapam with Alexandre Da Costa, Roch Voisine, Guylaine Tanguay, Vladimir Korneev, Mattenzo Da Costa, Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil and Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal under the baton of Frédéric Vogel at the Maison symphonique.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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