Charming beginnings: Caterina Sala

Caterina was born in Lecco in 2000. Her musical experience began with the study of the trumpet under the guidance of M° Giuliano Sommerhalder at the age of eight and, at the same time, she began singing in the “Gruppo Vocale Famiglia Sala” made up of seven members of her own family. With this ensemble she continues to perform in numerous concerts in Italy and abroad, experimenting a repertoire that ranges from Renaissance and Baroque polyphony to 20th-century Chanson, winning second prize at the 2009 “Franchino Gaffurio” National Competition and, in 2012, first prize at the International Competition of the City of Rimini. She was selected and performed in 2016 in the RAI UNO television programme “Prodigi la Musica è vita”. As Soprano soloist she performs the Gloria and the Magnificat by Antonio Vivaldi, the Christmas Oratorio by Camille Saint Saens and the Requiem Mass by W. A. Mozart with the Coro Città di Como and the orchestra Nuova Cameristica di Milano. In November 2018, again as Soprano Soloist, she performed in Gioachino Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Franz Schubert’s Mass in G-Dur. In January 2018 she won the ASLICO competition in the Emerging Category and the Audience Award. In 2019-2020 she was selected to attend the Academy for opera singers at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In November 2019 she made her debut on the stage of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in the role of Hermione in the opera Die Agyptische Helena by Richard Strauss. She will take part in the 2021/2022 season of Teatro alla Scala in Milan in the operas: Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea in the role of Mad.lla Jouvenot and in Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss in the role of Najade.

Your musical experience began with the study of the trumpet, while at the same time you started singing in your family’s vocal group. First of all, a curiosity: technically speaking, are the voice and the trumpet similar, compatible and ‘complementary’ instruments? Are there seven of you in the family, all musicians? How does it feel to make music with your loved ones? Are there differences in musical tastes between you?

Voice and trumpet are very similar, in my opinion. The breathing technique I learnt while playing the trumpet helped me and still helps me with my singing studies. Also, studying a musical instrument is very useful for learning phrasing and expressiveness: you don’t have words when you play, and you have to make the listener understand the emotions you want to convey; when I start to study a new aria or opera – and I come across passages that are particularly complex musically – I try to imagine how I would like to hear them and how I would perform them if I were playing the trumpet instead… and everything becomes clearer immediately. There are seven of us in the family: my mother (a musicologist and pianist), my father (an artist in the choir of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, as well as my singing teacher and pianist) and five children. We are all musicians and together we have created the GRUPPO VOCALE FAMIGLIA SALA, an ensemble made up of us seven family members. Making music with my family is something unique and special. The energy that is created when we sing together is powerful. We have sung in many places throughout Italy and abroad… two places that I hold in my heart are the Sala Nervi in the Vatican City in Rome in the presence of the Holy Father Francis and the International Competition of the City of Rimini where we won first prize in the sacred music section. We have also recorded four albums ranging from sacred to evergreen music. There have never been any differences between us as far as musical tastes are concerned: we choose the pieces to be performed together, trying to meet everyone’s taste.

You were selected at a very young age for the RAI UNO television programme “Prodigi, la Musica è vita”. What do you think of the popularising function that an instrument such as television can have in the field of opera? Compared to your experience and the recent ways of enjoying musical theatre that have emerged in the pandemic, what do you think could still be improved?

I believe that television is a very important means of dissemination. During the pandemic, the desire to share music and try to keep theaters alive led them to create many formats, concerts, operas and shows of all kinds that could be streamed from the comfort of your sofa at home. All this has encouraged many young and very young people, entire families and people of all ages to get closer and closer to theatre and music.

Read the entire interview here, in the 7th/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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