Wm: My first question of most artists I interview is of their earliest memories of music and of opera.

LP: I remember at age eight I was in Busseto, Italy with my grandfather Franco who had a cassette of opera arias. I used to listen to the aria Ella giamma m’amo that King Philip sings in Verdi’s “Don Carlo.”

I loved the aria’s color, and couldn’t believe that a man could sing so beautifully. After hearing it, I knew immediately that opera was going to be a huge part of my life.

Wm: We appreciate opera’s Italian heritage, but is it usual for young Italian boys to want to become opera singers?

 LP: A typical Italian boy or adolescent aspires to be a football (soccer) player. You need to be successful at football. But I hated running (although now I like jogging). I remember being forced to run, with adults yelling “lift those knees”. Perhaps this was good training for some of the more “energetic” productions I’ve done!

I was a kid with Italian blood, but soccer was not my passion. At age 11, in 1986, when most young Italian boys wanted to become soccer players, I went against the current and decided that I would become an opera singer. I am grateful that I never had a doubt in my life that that this would be my career.

Wm: What was the reaction of your schoolmates to that decision?

LP: Being an adolescent can be really tough. I was not popular, but I didn’t care. I knew what I loved and what I wanted to do, so that was my driving force.

It was still difficult because I was the only young boy that liked opera, so I joined Busseto’s club of Amici di Verdi. That organization would meet to listen to opera and would travel all over Italy to see it. It was truly my salvation. Every Sunday I would go somewhere to see an opera. I  was free and so happy to do this.

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