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Vocal Recipes and Culinary Repertoires

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Vocal Recipes and Culinary Repertoires: Davide Bazzali,  Italian Chef-Tenor extraordinaire.

Opera Bazzali - Davide Bazzali

Opera Bazzali – Davide Bazzali

Davide Bazzali’s business card bears a job description as unusual and creative as Bazzali himself: “Chef — Tenor”.

Bazzali moved to Canada from Italy only three years ago.  All he had heard of Montreal before moving there was that “there was somewhere in Canada where they spoke French.” Now, he is the new act in town for lovers of Italian food and Italian songs. His show, CuisineOpera, has just opened at the beautiful Rialto Theatre, and there is nothing quite like it.

The inventive concept behind CuisineOpera was “to create ties between Italian food and Opera-style singing,” explained Bazzali.

Bazzali lived most of his life in Italy, working as a chef but yearning to become a professional singer. Italy though proved unreceptive to his talent.  Thus, the casual invite of a friend was all it took to persuade Bazzali that his fortune awaited him in that artistic Mecca, Montreal.

“Too often, in Italy, I felt a prejudice against the mere fact that I wanted to be an artist,” he said.  “But here in Canada, people are receptive and interested: if you have talent someone will listen to you. Montreal is Montreal, c’est ça, I am home here, my personal, artistic, and human dimension is here.”

In Montreal, he took singing lessons with Manuel Blais, a well-known name in the Montreal vocalist community. “I came here meaning to really try, to study, and to perfect my performance as a singer,” he said. It was nothing new: he had been involved with the performing arts for years, but in Montreal he finally made the move to the world of professional vocalists.  The first step was to realize he had been singing in the wrong vocal range. Bazzali had sung as a baritone for years, but Blais took exactly two lessons to realize he was, in fact, a tenor.  From that day onward, Bazzali worked to improve his technique and widen his repertoire to arias and songs in the tenor range. Today, he can happily include music from both the baritone and tenor repertoires in his show.

As often happens, CuisineOpera resulted from a series of random circumstances. “I needed a bit more money,” he explained, “so I started to give classes on how to make fresh pasta. In the restaurant, there was a piano and one day Manuel Blais, my teacher, asked me to sing while he accompanied me on the piano.” This performance enthused the public to the point that they created CuisineOpera.

In CuisineOpera, each soireé has a different menu and a different repertoire. Davide researches extensively before each show: “I search for themes. For example I love seasonal themes.” His last show was on Mother’s Day, and Bazzali cooked traditional food his mother used to make, and sang Italian Folk songs from her time. “For the Italian Trio theme we will cover the evolution of Italian Folk music, from ‘O Sole Mio to the ’60s. In June I will perform accompanied by an accordeoniste and we will perform a classical Opera repertoire and international folk music.”

Bazzali is in charge of everything, from the food to the entertainment. He cooks the day before so that on show night he can focus on singing and entertaining the guests. And entertained they are: each night starts with Verdi, oftentimes with the aria “Libiam nei lieti calici” from La Traviata. Such a well-known and gay melody gets everyone in the mood from the beginning. The night goes on in a flurry of delectable Italian dishes and captivating Italian music sung in Bazzali’s warm voice.

CuisineOpera has been Bazzali’s launching pad into the world of professional vocalists, and he has no intentions of slowing down. In fact, he has already embarked on a new project: Opera Bazzali. “Opera Bazzali is my baby. I have dreamt of doing this for years, and finally I did.” The ambitious concept is to re-work opera music and lyrical music to blend it with world music. “Opera and lyrical singing have become removed from the public and they no longer appeal to young people”, said Bazzali. “With rock and pop music we have lost appreciation for music sung with a full-bodied voice and with strength. What we do with Opera Bazzali is to mix these classical songs with other musical styles to make it more fun.” An example:  Italian folk song “Parlami D’amore Mariù” takes on the irresistible rhythm of a rumba.

Bazzali has clearly created his own unique brand: his creativity seems to find expression in the most unusual mixes of styles, tradition, and even languages (he speaks a Franco-Anglo-Italo mix that would sound bizarre anywhere except Montreal). Whether it is food and music, or opera and world rhythms, one thing is for sure: Bazzali has a knack for finding the right recipe.

Written by: Margherita Vittorelli

THE SCENE


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