I am fascinated and inspired by real artists -- real artists who are not driven by money, ladder climbing or trends, but are focused on their unique visions regardless of what the world thinks. These people create simply because they have to. Migguel Anggelo is such an artist. Yes, I am close to him, but I am still blown away by his vision -- so free of what is going on in the pop-music world, so free of commercial intentions. I was honored to help bring his show to life recently at the New World Center in Miami and thought it would be fun to share a little of his inspiring background.
How did you get involved in music and performing and when?
Migguel Anggelo: Since I was an infant, I've been obsessed with music. My father, a chef, was constantly singing and listening to music while tending to his own craft in the kitchen, while my mother, a ballet dancer, always danced around the house to Spanish boleros or classical music. At age 13, I saw an ad for an audition for a big musical production of Pinocchio (this was the Broadway version that Sandy Duncan was in) being produced in Venezuela, where I am from, and I asked my parents if I could try out. I had only hoped that I would be in the chorus. You can imagine my shock when I was chosen to play Pinocchio himself!
After performing in many productions in Venezuela since, you moved to Germany and studied opera. What brought you to opera?
MA: Yes, that's correct. I went to Germany when I was 22. My grandfather was from Germany, and not only did I need a break from the grind of the theater in Caracas, but I wanted to see where he was from. I traveled around and fell in love with Cologne -- and stayed. When I ran out of money, I started singing on the street, collecting change from passersby. One day, the director of an opera academy spotted me and asked me to audition. For the next four years, I studied opera at the Conservatory of Music in Cologne.
Opera is a fascinating fantasy world, and I love all aspects of the genre -- the elaborate stage sets, the intense emotion, the orchestras and, of course, the incredible vocal abilities of the singers. When I would watch them sing effortlessly in high registers, I would tell myself that I needed to do that. It was a personal challenge.
Who are some of the performers that have influenced you?
MA: So many, but if I had to name some, I would say Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Freddie Mercury, Luis Miguel, Ginamaria Hidalgo and Mecano.
Your recent show at the New World Center in November was sold out -- congratulations! What did you enjoy most about the show?
MA: The audience. The theater is an intimate space, and I found it very rewarding to hear applause from people who may have been hearing my music for the first time. They moved me, and I hope I moved them.
Your music is very poetic and varied. I think about your song, "The Love of the Cello," in which an old cello falls in love with a harp, or "One Day With the Pentagon Lady," about a homeless woman you knew from Miami. What inspires your songs?
MA: I find the most powerful force in life is love, so that's often an inspiration. Writing about a cello falling in love with a harp is basically about the love between two mismatched beings -- perceivably mismatched. The Pentagon Lady was a wandering homeless woman who I met in Miami. She claimed to have been working at the Pentagon and had periodic phone conversations with The White House. The stories of her "reality" were so fantastical yet so real, I had to write about them.
You are working on a new CD, called The Blue House. Tell us about it?
MA: The Blue House is my humble tribute to Frida Kahlo. The CD is named after the song of the same title. I previewed it at the New World Center for the first time, and the piece is a tiny play where I become the fabled Mexican painter. The CD is full of poetry and different sonic ideas. You will hear about love, fantasy, politics, struggle -- the ingredients of life.
Where is your dream to perform?
MA: The energy of the audience can make any theater magical. That being said, I would love to perform at the Coliseum in Rome, Machu Picchu in Peru or on the Brooklyn Bridge.
If money or time were not an issue, what would be your biggest artistic dream?
MA: Singing and acting in a Baz Luhrmann movie. Frankly, I would be very happy to be able to sing and create until my last breath.
We would benefit from that too. (Wink!)
Watch this video below of Migguel Anggelo playing "Strings and Stories" at the New World Center.