Toronto’s Virgin Mobile Mod Club is a place where anything can and will take place. Take, for instance, Patrizia. Featured earlier in a one-on-one interview with Addicted, this classically-trained singer with a four-octave range brought her act to the Mod Club on May 31st. In a show that featured Ontario pole dancer champion Kiran Friesen and aerialist Katelyn McCulloch, Patrizia, flanked by her band and a group of classical strings, took centre stage and commanded the audience’s attention from start to howling finish.
Patrizia’s talent lies not only in her incredible vocal gift, but her ability to blend the classical with the modern in a unique and entertaining way. She took popular songs like Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna” and sang them with a gritty, rock edge, rendering them into a category unto themselves. Singing opera is not for the faint of heart, as it takes years of practice, perfecting notes that jump around wildly on a musical clef. A song like “The Phantom of the Opera” is one that almost everybody’s heard at least once but that few are familiar with its intricacies. The first chord (D Minor) is simple enough to play on a piano or guitar, but to hit the top note (the second G above middle C), imagine trying to mimic a yelping puppy- and then sustaining that for an entire bar.
It only gets more difficult.
The next two bars are filled with flats and sharps (accidentals) that alter notes from its original key. Remembering all this is like walking down the sidewalk blindfolded, learning the route and then being asked to juggle five balls at the same time. The hardest note to sing (E6, the third E after middle C) comes at the end when the singer has to quickly inhale as much air as she can to ensure she can force out the note for its entire duration. This might sound simple, but after singing a physically demanding song for several minutes while concentrating on conveying all the love and anguish contained in the words, and then hitting the high E, is no feat for the weak. It takes guts, training and power to be able to sing opera songs, and Patrizia nailed just about every one. There were misses, but they were few and far between. And while her band dutifully fulfilled its heavy rock obligations, they frequently overpowered her- a problem that seems to plague many operatic singers.
What can be ascertained with absolutely certainty is that this wildly-dressed woman has a powerful voice and isn’t afraid to put her own spin on popular songs. It’s just too bad that the audience at the Mod Club talked through so many songs and didn’t seem to understand that what they were seeing can only be done by a small group of people in the world.
*photos by Billy Archos