Vittorio Grigolo is not normal. While no artist is normal – and some are downright strange – Grigolo is something of an eccentric, both onstage (just look at that marvellous baroque bowing he does) and off. Here's an extract from an interview with Italy's Io Donna magazine which begins in a toy shop on the outskirts of Milan where he's having problems with his mini helicopter.
It's just a hobby, but these remote-controlled models are so difficult to drive that it requires your undivided attention, which forces me isolate myself and so I'm able to unwind.
He also dabbles as an inventor, patenting his new rotor blade design which he hopes may come to be used by full-sized helicopters. This may be a first for tenors.
Fritz Wunderlich toyed with electronics and photography, Enrico Caruso collected coins and stamps, Jussi Bjorling had a passion for fishing, and Pavarotti was a football fanatic; but Grigolo…
I'm designing a woman's shoe with a special heel which represents a woman's legs and backside. MoMA wants to exhibit it.
And there's more:
The Milan Expo has contacted me about another project which is a sort of world globe, 2½ metres in diameter, constructed from 3,000 wooden artists' dolls – the ones without eyes or mouth which painters use as models. It will be a metaphor for the negative aspects of technology: we believe that we have shortened distances whereas we've only got further away.
On this blog we've already talked about his love of speed and motorbikes. Then there's his music theatre project.
I'm finishing a musical, Ammerica. Hillary Clinton has heard a song and will use it for her campaign if she decides to run for president in 2016.
And lets not forget his martial arts. Aikido, in particular.
It teaches you to use the strength of others. The stronger the enemy, the stronger you are. Opera requires discipline, constancy and spirituality. Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, they are all doctrines that interest me; even Zoroastrianism, which professes: good deeds, good thoughts, good words.
Zoroastrianism is an ancient Iranian religious philosophy. Grigolo is getting a divorce from his Iranian-born wife, Roshi Kamdar. He has a tattoo on his forearm which says, “I surrender to you”,
I personally designed it 8 months ago, for a love-affair that's now ended.
He believes that recent experiences have helped him to grow emotionally. His cd, The Romantic Hero, had been in the pipeline for a long while, but Grigolo didn't feel up to interpreting the French heroes that inhabit it.
I wasn't ready. The spectrum of a romantic hero were not part of my being. I had no experience. Now I do, with the divorce, conflictual relationships… But love remains my key for stimulating enthusiasm, to be in love means to be inspired… but I'm an Aquarius, I get bored easily.
I don't know if I'll ever have a true partner. Maybe my mother.
But there's another ‘invention',
Music heals, and I intend to start a battle – as Verdi did in 1884 – for a sound at 432 hertz (the current convention is A=440 Hz), which is the vibration, the harmonic frequency, of the universe. After that I'll found the “Peace Orchestra”!
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.