How I became a singer
All of us know Gisele Pereira Fernández, our star soloist, but we felt members might like to hear about how she became a singer. She has kindly sent us this short autobiography.
The other day I chanced upon some photos which brought me back to me a chain of memories and made me re-live some of the most important moments of my life, from my childhood to the present time.
I began singing at a very early age. Our school had a choir which one joined in one’s second year but… I was only in the first and did so loving listening to them sing and was always hanging around them. When they realised how keen I was they made an exception and allowed me to rehearse with them. That was my first victory.
Then at 14, I started proper singing lessons with the only teacher I have ever had, Elisa D’ Agostini, who was absolutely wonderful. She was then already quite old but she fascinated the class with her vitality and her professionalism. After 6 months with her I passed the exam and was able to join the 2nd year course where I came first and continued to do so each year we gave a concert at which we sand duos trios etc. It was an unforgettable period of my life.
During the next few years there were some changes and at 31 I found myself in the Brazilian version of “Hallo Dolly” , singing in the chorus as well as dancing. The show was always sold out! We performed for 3 very happy years and were one big united family, always together for dinners, birthday celebrations or outings. When the season ended we all felt very sad … But we kept in touch.
After this I went in for an audition to join the choir of the Municipal Theatre of Rio de Janeiro and was placed 3rd. After 3 months I was given the chance to replace one of the soloists who was ill so I sang the role of the Countess of Ceprano as well as the page’s part in Verdi’s “Rigoletto”. From that moment I alternated singing in the chorus with different solo parts. The chorus was an ensemble of 120 voices, 20 in each voice range: 60 men and 60 women. We couldn’t always been together but we felt very close and still write to each other.
8 of us from this chorus formed a group of 4 men and 4 women called “2 x 4”. We sang at fiestas, concerts and mainly for TV. We had a permanent TV slot called “Darcy Gonçalves Show”. When the lead singer got pregnant the programme’s director threatened to suspend the show until after the baby was born. She stood firm and quite calmly informed him that if “The pregnant choir” wasn’t allowed to continue without pause we’d all walk out and there would be no more show .. so we continued as before.
I don’t know how we managed to get through that period. Often we’d spend nearly all night recording our TV show and every Monday-Friday we had 9am rehearsals at the theatre.
Round about that time I was asked to sing with a group which could well have been called Brazil’s answer on “The Mammas and Papas” and was proving very successful indeed. So I joined them. This was a completely different experience for me after years of singing opera and serenades (the typically romantic Brazilian music, which in the old days was sung to the guitar under the loved-one’s window)… So off I went on a new track. It really was with it. After masses of rehearsals we managed to achieve good co-ordination, excellent choreography and splendid costumes. Our show did very well and we performed mainly on TV until quite unexpectedly and inexplicably one member of the group committed suicide. After this tragedy we felt quite unable to carry on.
Then I spend a long period not singing in a group but as a soloist in shows and plays.
Eventually I came to Andorra where one day I was asked to join the Andorran Orfeó by Maestro Roure, its director. I was very pleased to accept, especially as I badly wanted to sing with other people again. I sang with them for 10 years. Then, after taking a sabbatical year. I sang at some friends’ wedding (in 1995) and had the great pleasure of meeting some of the International Singers. They invited me to one other rehearsals and I was so impressed that it is now nearly 4 years that I have been a member of this marvellous family comprising people of different nationalities. We get on fantastically well together, united by our love of music and choral singing. We’re a small group in which there is no jealousy or difference of opinion. We share our joys and our sorrows. As we are such a small choir we all know each other well and feel good singing together. We work hard under Barbara Melin’s direction. Though our prime objective is to enjoy the singing, we do take our work seriously and spare no effort to ensure that our performances are appreciated by the public whose support we value immensely.
I’m not sure if I’ve managed to express myself very well though I’m sure that if I’d been able to do it in song it would have turned out much better!!
Gisele Pereira Fernández
Published in the Inter-Comm September 2000