In an interview with Italy's Vanity Fair, the always outspoken tenor, Vittorio Grigolo, responded to journalist Sara Faillaci's question, “Is sex important for you?” with,
My name is Vittorio. I'm a sex addict.
Though he was fooling, he has something of a reputation as a Latin lover or, as Faillaci writes, a “tombeur de femmes”. This was an interview where music and singing were left in the green room. The interview kicks off with a few questions about his beginnings, the support of his parents, the surprising discovery when he was twelve that he had half-brothers, but it soon got around to sex. It seems an especially strong force in Grigolo's life, or perhaps it just seems that way because few opera singers are so open about their lives and passions. He has many: fast bikes… design… This surely informs his voice and approach to singing.
So, his interviewer asked, what does he like in a woman?
Her legs, her skin. I'm attracted to mature women… complete women. If there's a chemical attraction, I couldn't care less about whether she has a toned rear or not.
His seven-year marriage ended in 2013.
I'm difficult to be with. I believe in fidelity, but that's easier said than done. I like women. Yesterday I went out with a friend and he asked me how was it possible not to fall in love and become imprisoned by a woman; I told him, “Fall in love with another.”
I'm always driven by love, even if it only lasts for a night. Sex is a physical need that can be satisfied with anyone; love is the need to see your partner happy… satisfied.
Faillaci remarked that although he attracts women but he is also the object of desire for many men.
A lot of people think I'm gay, even my first wife did when she first met me. It might be because I imitate them well and that I'm so comfortable in their company. Also, I've always been around the fashion world. In fact, I will design a collection of clothes for Oscar de la Renta, a tribute to him; he was like a father to me. [The designer died last October.]
I have no problem if a director kisses me on the mouth, but I wouldn't go any further as it is against my nature… I have tastes that are more traditional.
Grigolo grew up immersed in tradition, going to school in the Vatican as he sang in the choir. He comes across as a grown-up choirboy, with a slightly naïve quality, reflected in his comments about not having experienced or witnessed episodes of paedophilia in the school:
No, because I returned to sleep at home and my spiritual fathers were all getting on in age.
If that were enough to stop a determined paedophile… He adds,
I think that celibacy in the church at the beginning was useful for making the structure stronger… a ‘caste' in fact. Later it was exposed as being its greatest weakness.
What mark has the church left on Grigolo? He says he believes in God, prays, but finds it hard to reconcile the teachings of the Catholic Church with its wealth. He admires Pope Francis' position. And sex?
I'm very open-minded. For me there are many more shades of grey than fifty. If, in a relationship, there is something missing, yet the couple are happy together, why not use handcuffs, a mask, or a whip, if it's pleasurable? It isn't my thing, but if there was wife swapping at a party I wouldn't be shocked, I'd watch.
If it makes you happy, why not?
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.