Adriano Graziani is one of the students studying at the prestigious Dennis O’ Neill Cardiff International Academy of Voice. He has recently landed himself a part with the Welsh National Opera to understudy Rodolfo in Puccini’s opera La Bohème and then plays the role in one of the matinee performances, on the 30th May in Birmingham’s Hippodrome theatre.
My father is Italian so I used to wake up with all the greatest singers being played in the living room. I grew up listening and watching the renowned Welsh tenor Dennis O’ Neill CBE. Needless to say, one of my career highlights to date is being taught by Dennis himself at Cardiff University’s Cardiff International Academy of Voice.
As a young boy, I would always attend the local choirs and practice at home in Trebanos, South Wales. That was all it was until one day our next door neighbour, who was a strict choir singer, said to my parents “Have you thought about Adriano having singing lessons?” - and it went from there. As a Welsh singer, if somebody thinks you have a talent, they really try to push it.
Although I had an interest in music from an early age, I worked for many years as a banker in the City of London. It wasn’t until one day I was walking past the Royal College of Music and on a whim went in and asked to sing for the head vocal coach. He obviously liked what he heard and I got a place. The Royal College of Music certainly put me back on the road to a future in music but I came out of there thinking what was I going to do now?
In January 2008, I came to the Cardiff International Academy of Voice and since being here it’s been remarkable. I’ve always been a great admirer of Dennis O’ Neill as he is one of the few international singers who can not only do what he does at his level, but he also has the great ability to teach the Italian way of singing. Singers from all over the world want to come here and we have singers from South Africa, Russia and New Zealand.
It’s a fantastic Academy and it has opened up so many doors. Being in a school like this, with a small number of singers and such experienced coaches is an incredible experience. The Academy teaches you vocal technique and how to do things properly. As I approach my final weeks here it has certainly prepared me for the real world.
So many remarkable things have happened to me at the Academy. As part of the course, we go to Barga in Italy for two weeks, where we sing Italian Opera, in Italian, to the Italian people. The surroundings are beautiful in the most wonderful theatre. The Academy also took part in the University’s 125th Anniversary Gala Concert and to sing with the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, in the Wales Millennium Centre was amazing. We also got to share the stage with Rebecca Evans and Dennis O’Neill, two great opera singers. It was a great privilege to be a part of Cardiff Universitys 125th Anniversary and I learned a lot more about Cardiff University and what it’s achieved so far. I think it’s really something special.
Next year I will be working with the Welsh National Opera as the understudy of another welsh tenor, Gwyn Hugh Jones and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he works. I will also get the chance to lead in one of the matinee performances, on the 30th May in Birmingham Hippodrome theatre, playing the part of Rodolfo in Puccini’s opera La Bohème .
I can now say that I’m entering the operatic profession at the highest level as I’m being engaged by the Welsh National Opera and Opera Holland Park - it doesn’t seem real at times. The Cardiff International Academy of Voice gives any young singer like me a good opportunity to make their dreams become a reality.