Tag Archives: opera

Forest Hills opera singer competing for America’s vote on ‘AGT’ this week

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC

A Texas-born, afro-sporting woman who enjoys football and mixed martial arts is not who most people imagine when they think of an opera singer.

That viewpoint is exactly what Forest Hills resident Olanna Goudeau is trying to prove wrong.

Goudeau, 32, and musical partner Ashley Renée Watkins, 29, will be singing for America’s vote Tuesday night in the hopes of spreading opera to a larger audience and winning $1 million.

“People feel [opera] is not accessible and not familiar to them,” Goudeau said. “We kind of want to be ambassadors for the art form.”

The singing duo, Acte II, is one of 48 acts that made it to the season nine “America’s Got Talent” quarterfinals, where they get to appear live at Radio City Music Hall and compete for viewers’ votes.

The ladies received yeses from all four judges, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel, in the NBC show’s season nine premiere on May 27. They were so impressed that Acte II was selected to go straight through to the live performances, bypassing a second audition in front of the judges.

Mel B surprised Goudeau with the exciting news at her Queens home.

“I was completely shocked,” Goudeau said. “I didn’t say hello or invite her in.”

Before making it to the reality show stage, Goudeau’s love for singing started in church and with gospel music. As she grew older, she was introduced to classical music. But her focus on singing and opera as a career came in college.

After switching from a computer science major to music, she thought her program would focus on jazz music, since she was attending Dillard University in New Orleans. But to her surprise, she learned the classics and her passion for opera was born.

It was also at Dillard that she met Watkins, but they didn’t become friends until Goudeau was working on her master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and Watkins was one of several Dillard students the school hosted following Hurricane Katrina.

They grew closer when they both were a part of Opera New Jersey one summer. The idea for Acte II started as way for them to find more singing opportunities in Europe and to do a concert tour.

“We enjoyed singing together,” Goudeau said. “So we were like, why don’t we make this official?”

The name and the group came to represent more.

“We wanted to make our own opportunities,” Goudeau said. “It’s like a second phase in life.”

The same weekend they were set to have their first concert, at the First AME Church: Bethel in Harlem, where Goudeau is currently an artist-in-residence, “America’s Got Talent” was holding auditions.

“We were so nervous that [the judges] wouldn’t accept opera,” she said. The pair both had their “afros out” and dressed like “everyday people.”

The judges not only accepted the art form, but were surprised by their voices.

“That was a moment and that was your moment,” Mel B said, adding that the performance made the hair on her arms stand up.

On Tuesday they will need to garner the same reaction from viewers. And Goudeau, who moved to Queens six years ago to pursue her New York City opera dreams, is asking the borough to vote for one of their own.

“[My family has] embraced Queens so much. I just feel so comfortable here. It’s such a community,” she said. “I hope Queens people vote.”

To watch Acte II perform live on “America’s Got Talent,” tune in on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m. To find out how to vote, visit www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/vote/methods.

UPDATE: Acte II was eliminated in the Wednesday, Aug. 6 episode of “America’s Got Talent.”  To watch Acte II’ s Tuesday night performance, watch the video below. For more information on the singers, visit acteii.com.



From heavy metal to opera performer

| nkarimi@queenscourier.com

Escamillo in Bizet's Carmenw

Astoria artist Adelmo Guidarelli, 40, has been named the 2011 Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) award winner for best Comedy/Musical Comedy Performer.

“It’s not something I ever thought about. I mean, I think I’m pretty funny, but this is on a completely different level,” said Guidarelli. “The award is for my performance in the one-man show ‘Operation Adelmo,’ written and directed by Michael Mackenzie Wills, who has worked with such comic greats as Penn & Teller and Blue Man Group.”

Guidarelli attended The Music Conservatory of Westchester, the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and is a graduate of the Jerome Hines Opera Music Theatre International Program. Guidarelli currently studies privately and receives coaching at the Met.

Guidarelli was also recently selected by producer Ryan Seacrest on the season premiere of his show “Bank of Hollywood” to present Mozart’s “Non più andrai.”

Guidarelli’s director Wills had worked with Penn & Teller when they lived in New York and performed on “Late Night with David Letterman” regularly.

“They would rehearse their Letterman appearances by having Eddie Gorogetsky play Letterman and ask every possible question Letterman might ask. Eddie had been a writer for Letterman and “Saturday Night Live.” Mike [Guidarelli’s director] did the same for me. He chose what piece I would present and then we rehearsed with him asking me every possible question the judges might ask and we worked out the best answers for each question,” said Guidarelli.

“When Ryan Seacrest’s personal assistant first called, I thought it was my sister-in-law pranking me,” said Guidarelli. “I arrived in Los Angeles very prepared and the experience was really great. The audience loved it, the judges loved it, and I loved it.”

Guidarelli was born in Greenwich, Connecticut. When he was six, his parents moved to the Silver Lake area of Harrison, a suburb of White Plains. In 2006, Guidarelli met his wife and she showed him all the great things Queens has to offer an artist.

Growing up, Guidarelli played the lead in many school plays. In high school he got into Heavy Metal and formed a garage band called “Defcon,” where they played Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, TNT and Metallica.

“It was during that time that my Mom made me take voice lessens because she was tired of hearing me scream out of tune in my bedroom. I started taking lessons and learned that the singers from the bands I admired were classically trained,” said Guidarelli. “My very first voice teacher told me she heard an ‘operatic’ quality in my voice, and that’s how it all began. At this early fork in the road to my success I turned my focus from becoming a Heavy Metal star like my idols, to becoming an opera singer.”

“I’m currently preparing for a Metropolitan Opera audition that I have coming up in 2012. I want to play The Met and sing in Vegas,” said Guidarelli. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Guidarelli has many performers who he admires and would like to work with someday.

“I am inspired by artists with a tenacious drive to expand their horizons, opera singer Bryn Terfel, Italian pop-singer Giorgia, actors Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman,” said Guidarelli. “I recently debuted in the title role of Puccini’s “Gianni Schicci” with Maestro Anton Coppola, the uncle of the famous Francis Ford. He is in his 90’s and has an amazing energy and zest for life.”

Guidarelli’s production team is a member of The Association of Performing Arts Presenters, APAP.

“January 6 and 8, I am going to be doing two showcase performances of the show we presented so successfully at the 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Also, on February 20 we are presenting ‘Operation Adelmo’ at Symphony Space, as a fund raiser and gala for Opera Manhattan,” said Guidarelli.