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"I fell down the long rabbit hole into the wonderland of music when I was about seven years old. I came across a pile of “78”records in an unused Victrola (how’s that for a dated word?) and I remember first and foremost the voice of Tito Schipa singing the Cavatina from “the Barber of Seville”, and I was hooked! From then on music meant mostly singing, and at first mostly Opera. At around the same time, I secretly vowed to be a singer.

Music was the only world to which I could escape from the banality of a lower middle-class existence. In the privacy of my room, I could be an african princess, or a fiery gypsy, or a courtesan with a heart of gold (don’t tell my mum!).

Later, when I began to sing along with the Opera stars, it was my chance to express those blurred, but primordial feelings I had bottled-up inside a thin, nondescript physique.

Little by little, music gave me an identity - all mine - not just somebody’ daughter, sister or niece. Music gave me a profession. It brought me a great love and, when it ended, it filled the void with an incentive to live more fully as a person, not an appendix. It liberated me as a woman, it forged my independence of mind and spirit. Music stimulated my creativity and gave me a sense of confidence and inner serenity.

Image by courtesy of Cristina Berio

Music is the air I breathe and the planet I inhabit. The only way I can pay my debt to music is by bringing it to others, with all my love."

Cathy Berberian (february 1983)
Uit: Marie Christine Vila, ‘Cathy Berberian, Cant’actrice’. Editions Fayard, 2003
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