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Opera Profile: Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti

Opera Profile: Tenor Giuseppe Filianoti

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with tenor Giuseppe Filianoti of San Diego Opera's The Elixir of Love about surviving cancer.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with tenor Giuseppe Filianoti of San Diego Opera's The Elixir of Love about surviving cancer.


San Diego Opera’s “The Elixir of Love” opened this past weekend. The opera is all about love but the behind the scenes story about its tenor was almost a tragedy.

The last thing an opera star wants to hear from a doctor is that “you’ll never sing again.” Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti faced such a crisis back in 2006 when he was diagnosed with cancer. The surgery to remove his thyroid gland left one of his vocal cords paralyzed. Doctors said his career was over. But Filianoti didn’t accept that.

"Yes my voice stop and many doctors told me you’ll never sing again," Filianoti recalled, "And that’s another point in the life, you say, yeah, maybe it’s possible, statistics, says this, but maybe I should try till I’m sure it’s not possible. I tried, I forced myself, I restart to study, I restart to let my voice come back. And I discovered that if not everything in our life is definitely written in a book. So every case is different from another one. So at the end I can say the way, the best way to recover is first, fortune, second your mind, and third to keep going. Never try to say there is no other possibility. I start again for five months to vocalize again and to be patient and after that I discover that I need time five months to be fine, to be full recovered one year. But I am still here."

Now Filianoti returns to the role of Nemorino, the young lover in Donizetti’s charming opera “The Elixir of Love.” It’s a role that has new meaning for him.

"You have to be like Nemorino, you have to be like a child. To live everyday and to think that everything is precious."

San Diego Opera’s “The Elixir of Love” continues tonight through Sunday at the Civic Theater downtown.


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