When Pedro – for the world Pekka Svaetichin, for the stage Pier Bernitz – asked me to write a personal testimonial about him for his website my first reaction was to have a good laughter. How could you ever condense a lifetime of living together in 600-800 words, especially when our feelings were born in midst of the promiscuity of budding gay scene?
“Do you want me to be truthful?” I asked. “Shamelessly!” was the answer.
He didn’t need to add that his professional success – and subsequent earnings for our household – might depend about the result of this editorial.
Passing under silence the circumstances of our encounter, which could only be defined as Midsummer Night’s Dream or magic of St Walpurga’s Eve, to cover up for the usual squalor of gay cruising, I would still say that our relation was born under the stars of Opera – meaning a professional context. It was the mortar that cemented our union.
After getting a degree in one of the foremost French Universities, he had worked in several European countries, in various positions, prioritizing happiness over career. This was because he had a goal.
Since age 12, when he heard his first opera, he had decided that he wanted to become opera singer. His voice had given early signs of a potential for a very important dramatic tenor voice, and he had been advised by professional to wait past his thirties, so that his physique would be able to sustain the weight of his voice type.
This had recently happened when we met, Pedro was in Italy to find himself a voice teacher and I provided him with the best name that I knew, Gianfranco Boretti. Maestro Boretti created his base technic, which Pedro later completed with masterclasses with world-famous names such as Edda Moser, Norman Shetler, Kurt Widmer and so on.
His career, which started well with parts, such as Ramiro (la Cenerentola), Rodolfo (la Bohème), Turiddu (Cavalleria Rusticana) was abruptly stopped by a violent ailment, which made him lose all the muscles necessary for vocal emission.
During the years which we have thrived together, Pedro has also encouraged me in developing myself. He pushed me to get a master in opera management, and together we founded “Il Duo dei Gatti”, a musical association with mission to promote Lied concerts in Italy, and for which I was the chairman for years.
After our arrival to UK, to escape the increasingly fascist shadow in Italy, Pedro started working again outside the opera industry. After working for two years and a half for an important boutique hotel chain, Pedro started a crusade against this Company under the sign of #shetoo movement. Being used to reach for to the stars with opera, Pedro just couldn’t resist a cause that was bigger than himself.
Integrity is a defining character in him. He doesn’t think twice when confronting abuse or injustice. He just cannot help himself.
Having walked together through the difficult years when in the early 2003 he was accepted in the young singers’ training program of La Fondazione Toscanini, which were later followed by a series of demises that bereaved his spirit, seeing him work together with some of the greatest musical genii of our times, left me surprised when after the difficult disease that kept him in the hospital and consumed all his hardly earned phonation muscles, he one day got on his feet and decided to set up as entrepreneur.
With the excellent motto’s “when you fall, at least you fall forward” and “You don’t learn succeeding, but failing”, he started his serendipity walk through the night as entrepreneur.
Facing the generational gap was one of his main concerns.
I had already seen him work intensely with the old glories and sacred monsters of the great years of opera, with a modernity created by the evergreen interpretation of true genii. He moved seamlessly to work with his own age group as well as with younger generations, his passion and the urgency with which he involves everybody being the clue that keeps any team together. When facing a common issue, he just won’t lease his grip until a common solution is reached.
Of late, his focus has been with millennials and AVID’s – how to integrate the narcissistic generation of reality and talent shows with a culture of patience and mystery such as opera. It was unexpected, since he always was the person, who always measured the impact of his interpretation with the silence before the applauses started after the last note had lingered away.
I know that when he had to renounce to singing opera something died in me. For a couple of years Pedro just gripped with the injustice of it, then when one day he said that he’d go see his lifetime concert partner Marcello Zuffa and his teacher Gianfranco Boretti, I knew that it wasn’t over.
He said that it was only to possibly sing in concerts and Lied evenings, but I know that one day I’ll still see him in Otello, Canio, Peter Grimes, Tristan or Andrea Chenier – the masterpiece of the composer of my homeplace.
He will return to the music – either as artist or as entrepreneur – and he will be the bigger man for all the fights and hardship he has undergone for it.
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DANCING ON THE EDGE