The essence of Maria Callas through Adonà Mamo


I did the same route every day to and from the Dance Academy. I always walked past the same newsstand which carefully displayed the magazines, some of which contained gift items: glasses, bracelets, necklaces, videotapes, CDs, etc.

A few days earlier, a CD by the greatest opera singer in history, Maria Callas, “Vissi d ‘arte, vissi d’ amore” had been released. Despite the singer’s beautiful image and her notoriety, in the eight days which had followed the release of the CD, no one had bought it.

Singing was my passion and I obviously knew Callas’s name, but I didn’t know her professionally.

– Who was Maria Callas? I wondered what was on this CD.

I bought it with great curiosity.

After crossing a few blocks, I returned home, a miserable apartment in Rome Via della Polveriera, furnished with the bare minimum.

I took off my K-way jacket and threw it on the chair next to the sofa. I sat down and took off my shoes with my feet.

– What a day today! Today at rehearsals they exhausted us! I said to myself.

There were only a few days left until November 5, the day of the premiere of the musical “Saturday Night Fever” at the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

I lay down on the sofa and carefully removed the packaging from the CD. I almost had the impression that on the cover, the face of Maria Callas, icon of emotional drama, was smiling at me.

I inserted the CD into the player and let myself go to the sublime and enveloping voice of the first song “Casta Diva”. I froze. I heard this particular voice which contained a new world of sound all its own. An unknown and mysterious shiver invaded my body. I closed my eyes and let myself be carried away by this call.

– “She calls me!” I shouted.

So, I started vocalizing trying to imitate her and realized that I could follow her easily …

– “But it’s my real voice!” I shouted.

For years, I had repressed this gift by devoting myself to dance. Perhaps, finally, the moment had come to bring together the two disciplines, those which would bring me closer to the musical.

The singer in the video is called Adonà Mamo, from Syracuse. At the registry office, it’s Adonay, a Hebrew name that can only be pronounced in prayer. In a completely random way, on the occasion of the presentation of the New Proposals at the Sanremo Festival in 2004, Roman friends mutilated the name by emphasizing the “a”, thus Adonà was born. Mamo is the real last name.

He is an artist in every way: dancer, actor and natural soprano.

Yes, a natural soprano, that is, a soprano vocal tuning through a narrow and deep larynx.

Although I am male, I have a soprano voice because my larynx has a naturally feminine conformation, a quality that I discovered and re-evaluated in 2002 when I bought a CD of Callas which had -Vissi d’Arte- as an opening song“, he told me.

It was a vocal characteristic that hasn’t always been easy to own and display. As a child, with his beautiful clear voice, he sang in the church choir. With the onset of puberty, however, the tone had not changed. His friends teased him and invited him to smoke to change that female voice that was close to a falsetto. So he decided to devote himself to another passion, dance.

He moved to Rome after being promised a reserve job on “Amici“, the famous Mediaset show, and decided to stay there. It was September 16, 2002, the date that coincides with the death of Maria Callas in 1977 and that of Farinelli (the most famous lyric castrato) in 1782. After having distributed numerous Curriculum Vitae, he arrived at the Accademia della Danza in Rome where he was selected and obtained a scholarship.

There passed all the directors of the most famous musicals in the world. Among them, Amy Rogers (the choreographer of Fame) who chose him for the debut of the musical “Saturday Night Fever” at the Sistina Theater on November 5th. The purchase of Callas’s CD was fateful because it opened up a whole new world to him, that of opera. He therefore decided to explore his physiological property, which was indeed completely new, because he had never taken it into consideration. The visit to the speech-language pathologist confirmed that this was a really rare case where the male vocal cords look exactly like those of a soprano and do not even match those of a falsetto.

But let’s try to understand better!

The soprano designates the female voice of the highest register. In contrast, the appellation associated with the highest male voice is the tenor. All male singers who sing in the soprano register are defined as sopranists, adult men with vocal organs able to support the high register of a soprano. The sopranists are distinguished from the countertenors because the latter present an artificial false falsehood called reinforced. The falsetto is a singing artifice mostly devoid of harmonics and of all that expressive color typical of bel canto.

In the history of choral and solo music, the sopranists find their precedents in the high voices, in the Gregorian choir and especially in the castrati, real stars of the scene (called castrati according to the practice, today ethically reprehensible, of emasculation).

Sopranists, endowed with peculiar vocal organs similar to those of women, build a vocal texture for timbre and color similar to the soprano, albeit falsetto, managing to sing in their scale, from C to E flat. Today, although quite rare, they no longer perform in repertoires drawn from the Baroque or the 18th century, but also tackle difficult-to-interpret melodrama tunes with unusual skills.

Finding is place within the Conservatories of Music was not easy for Adonà. However, although he passed the entrance exams, he did not have the opportunity to graduate in public because as a man he was prevented from playing female roles. He could only do this in private, but at an exorbitant cost.

Adonà Mamo has to his credit several participations in various musicals including “Il Vizietto” in 2012, “Tutti Insieme Appassionatamente” in 2015, “La Regina di Ghiaccio” in 2017.

In the role of Pang, he participated in Puccini’s opera “Turandot”, in 2018 in “Mimì, in arte Mia Martini” and in the summer of 2019, he gave voice to the Roman Shepherd in “Tosca” at the Greek theater of Syracuse. On Italian television, he could be found in “Reazione a Catena”, Amadeus’ game show.

He achieved great success on November 21, 2019 where, in the guise of Maria Callas, he sang “Casta Diva” in Carlo Conti’s show on Rai Uno “Tali e Quali”

There have been other participations in programs such as “Domenica In“, “La Botola“, “I Raccomandati“, “Emozioni“, “L’Italia allo specchio” and “Celebrity“. Fiorello, the great Sicilian showman, noticed him on the program “Reazione a catena” and wanted him to be a regular guest on his program “Edicola Fiore” broadcast on the Sky platform.

– Adonà, I wanted to ask you how important dance has been in your lyrical journey?

– For me, it was very important because I think that knowing how to move with the rhythm, to have a harmonious body and not to be a piece of wood, all combined with a stage presence perfectly complements the vocal discourse. When you are at the microphone in front of the audience, controlling body movements does help working with the voice in a way. Stage presence, however, is like a skill, you either have it or you don’t.

– Do you think you have more of a warrior spirit or do you have of a warrior state of mind?

– I have a warrior spirit which makes me feel like a warrior of the spirit. It’s kind of a merger. I have made many choices in my life to try to be one with myself. To be the projection of myself and not the projector. From my childhood I had a warrior spirit which led me to be a spirit warrior. I still think it’s better to have both. However, it is essential to have a great inner strength in tune with your soul because nothing can be done, especially if you want to sing as a soprano, without the sensitivity of your inner self.

Usual question, what are your plans for the future?

– I have a lot of plans. First of all, to be able to take the stage of the Ariston Theater with lyrical pop music that can touch everyone. Then, carry out projects like the show I wrote “Diva”: The story of a boy who becomes the greatest opera singer in the world. I’m not revealing the ending so I hope you all go see it. Another project is “Farinelli, an original lyrical pop musical for all ages”, where people can have fun. I turned Farinelli into a more pop lyrical musical version, called “Farinelli, love trumps all”, where everyone experiences castration in the broad sense. In the future after theater, which takes so much energy from me, I would like to devote myself entirely to discography, it is my great desire to record records.

– On your way, have you had more remorse or regrets?

– Throughout my life, I have always told myself that it is better to live with remorse than with regret. This is because if you are a beautiful and good person and have done something wrong, you can forgive yourself. Whereas regret is the bitterness of not being able or willing to do something. I had no regrets because I always threw myself into what I believed in: in 2013, for example, I went to New York with no money.

This is the story of Adonà, a boy who, nourished by a strong balance between body and soul and full of positivity, was able to realize his biggest dream: to sing.

What do you think about!