Costa Women Meet … Simona Mango

Hello Simona, lets jump in and ask… why did you decide to move to Spain?
Three years ago my partner and I were invited to Zahara de los Atunes, on the Atlantic coast. We flew to Malaga, rented a car and drove straight out there. That was an incredible experience as we both absolutely love the Atlantic and know that’s our “real home” somehow. But Cadiz or one of the villages felt like a rather impractical dream… After two weeks we came back to the airport and they told us our flight was cancelled due to a strike in the French skies and we could only fly back the day after, late at night – huge panic for me, I didn’t know whether I woud make it to Basel in time for a concert I had!  So we went into town, strolled thorough the centre, couldn’t believe our eyes. And as we came down to the pier and the lighthouse we looked at each other and just said: it’s here, isn’t it?
By the way, I just just just made it to the concert!

Before Spain you were… 
We had been living in Switzerland for many years but couldn’t cope with the climate anymore. We had been thinking hard but unsuccessfully about all possible places we could move to… Spain had never crossed our mind. Until our guardian angels dropped us here!

And why did you choose Malaga?
Malaga is a truly wonderful town! And it’s not too far from the Atlantic… The international airport is what made the dream come true for us. We are both travelling musicians… 

You have a desire to “Bring classical music to people, no matter who and where they are, because it can touch you, make you happy, give you strong emotions” – tell us more
Yes, this is more or less what my job here on Earth is all about :-). In recent decades classical music and opera have mostly been perceived as a stiff, difficult and rather boring kind of think for rigid, grey-haired snobs. Nothing could be further away from the truth! Many people never heared it properly, so they’re not aware of it and don’t know they’re missing out. I believe the discovery of it can be of great value and bring great joy to everyone. Classical music is incredibly varied… you don’t have to like it all! There will be things you love and others you don’t like at all and that’s ok! What I am doing is, I’m spreading out a buffet for you with all my favourite treats. Come and pick what you like from it. I promise you’ll find something beautiful or funny or uplifting or enchanting or sexy or inspiring…
And what is Neapolitan music?
Neapolitan music comes from the city of Naples, in southern Italy. There’s a huge musical tradition there that produced a wealth of songs about love, about the city itself – often likened to Paradise or to a wonderful painting and called “the most beautiful place on Earth” – and about many funny things. Some are big soaring melodies (for example ‘“O sole mio” and “Torna a Surriento” , you will surely know them as “It’s Now or Never” and “Surrender” from Elvis) some are very rhythmical and lively pieces, and the lyrics are always in Neapolitan, the local dialect, which sounds quite different from Italian. I love these songs, Naples is my hometown and of course, I sing them in the original language. My partner – the British guitarist Bruce Reynolds – and I have a Neapolitan duo and quartet we are very proud of. Neapolitan song is a category of music I love to mix with classical pieces for my “discovery concerts”. The combination of the two is wonderful, sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to your goal?
The biggest challenge when you’re trying to sell concerts to venues and promoters is overcoming their apathy, their lack of money and/or interest, their fear of staging something people won’t like. And that’s one of the reasons why I decided to organise concerts, be it for myself or for others. Now the biggest challenge is getting the audience interested and willing to pay for something they’re not used to paying for, especially around here…
How did you start singing?
Well, I gave my first public performance at the age of two, singing “All My Little Ducklings” for a big crowd of visitors and ducks at the city zoo 🙂 No, really, I had known all of my childhood and youth that I was a singer, but I allowed “more important things” my parents wanted – and I hated – to distract me from it and actually took my first singing lesson when I was 25. That took some making up for lost time…
If you could only sing one song ever again it would be …
“Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix”, Delilah’s aria from Saint-Saëns’ opera “Sanson et Dalila”…. the most beautiful piece ever written for my kind of voice.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod, Spotify etc.
I rarely had the time to just listen to music lately. I hear and make lots of music all day everyday, and when I finally get to cook something or go for a stroll, I prefer talking to someone or just being in silence. I certainly am looking forward to a time where I’ll be able to listen to more music apart from the one I’m working on!
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given
Be yourself! There’s a lot of this around at the moment, but often it is very difficult to catch the essence of these two simple words. As an artist, you’re always tempted to imitate the great or successful ones to fulfill the connoisseurs’ and the public’s expectations, to be accepted and recognised as a “serious” interpreter. But once your technique is secure and you can guarantee a professional standard at all times, it’s all down to your heart, your soul. There are thousands of great voices out there and everyone else’s technique is at least as good as yours, so what makes you different? Making it to the point where you allow yourself to bring your soul into the performance, in other words, where you find the guts to show yourself as you are, is the greatest achievement.
Something you will achieve this summer…
You mean apart from the bikini body? I’m getting professional business coaching, Nami Haghighi took me under his wing, so by the end of this summer I’m determined to get rid of all my old mistakes and get into a more productive mindset. I can’t play the cartoon opera singer sitting in the parlour with a poodle in her lap waiting for an oldfashioned telephone to ring. I’m jumping into troubled waters – and loving the challenge.
You are organising a dinner with 8 other singers, writers, or music directors (from history, or alive today) who would you invite and what would you eat?
I would invite Billy Joel for sure!!! And seat him next to Beethoven. Then Billie Holiday, Oscar Wilde, Maria Callas – I never liked her voice, but she’s one of the greatest artists and personalities of the last century. Then Rossini, who was a very funny guy and a real foodie, and John Lennon and Sir Simon Rattle. Then I would definitely ask Robuchon to cook for this exquisite bunch.
Your voice brings joy to others, what brings joy to you?
Many things bring me joy. Actually, any and every thing beautiful brings me joy! And I’m good at detecting beautiful things everywhere, so I get plenty of joy all the time.
Where do you see yourself living in the next 10 years
Somewhere close to the sea, in Andalusia… I promised myself I would never again live away from the sea.
How can we find out more about “Allegro con Fuoco”?
That’s the Allegro con Fuoco website and here you have the facebook page.
Allegro is rather new (but growing fast!), so for more information about my activity please check out my personal website
I also have a YouTube channel

Thank you so much Simona – we look forward to hearing you sing live!

Thank you ever so much, Ali! What a lovely interview and what a lovely way of introducing me to this exciting community!