"Maria Elena is making beautiful music all over the world ."
1. Maria you have an Italian/Bulgarian heritage in a tiny little body with a very big voice. Tell us how you grew up with such a gift and your love for music.
I was born on Lake Como, and grew up in Rome from the age of 5, before that we had lived in Vienna, Milan, Bulgaria and Canary Islands, as both my parents were Opera singers and we moved like gypsies depending on their contracts . My mum is the soprano Raina Nikolova Infantino , and my dad was the world renowned Tenor, Luigi Infantino.
Music was just the air we breathed at home , as it was always full of artists from around the world staying with us for a week or for a month, playing violin, clarinet , piano and more ... rehearsals were mainly at home, which lead for me to know all of my mum's repertoire by heart by the age of 5! I would even start to give her notes when she would make a mistake here and there during the process . But I must admit I have always preferred singing the male roles from the operas as a child , as it was more fun for me to show how I could reach the lowest notes!
Also we always had dinners with people speaking over 5 languages at the same time , and understanding each other perfectly !
So in my childhood there was a lot of international people and traveling involved... and THAT was normal for me.
I thought that every kid in the world was hanging out at the Opera house , and I was shocked to find out that going to the Opera for some people is like a major event in their lives! So as you can imagine , singing was always in the air ! It was normal to sing ! Maybe that's why I never fully understood my gift and maybe even took it for granted for a while , until I went to drama school in London, to study acting ( ALRA) ,where we had 4 hrs a week on Musicals and the teacher would always use me as an example for exercises in front of the class and was thrilled to give me the hardest songs , as for him I was a wunderkind I presume . That's when I understood that not everybody can sing, and that I was somewhat out of the ordinary .
After my training as an actress in London , my debut was as a singer !!! At the Royal Albert Hall , in front of 5.250 people , singing my version of "Do you want to know a secret" for the Beatles 50th Anniversary , starring Dame Shirley Bassey! I then moved to LA with my one woman show on French icon Edith Piaf , acting and singing . Such is life!
2. Who are some of your musical influences?
Elvis Presley has always been my idol since I was 7 years old! It was insane ! I would listen to him constantly and have all his songs in cassette or CD!! My room was filed with photos of him , to the point that at 12 , my mum decided to take me to visit Graceland!! His music is like a spiritual experience every time ! It elevates you ! It inspires! Warms your heart ! It's simply a thrill of emotions !! That's what music is all about ! The journey between the performer and the audience.
Then I had my phases with Ricky Martin, Julie Andrews and many more !
3. Where can we find your music and what concerts do you have coming up?
I have a couple of CD's that are extremely different from one another .
My first one was made when I was 18, and it's all about musicals as I was fresh out of drama school when I recorded it! It is interesting to note the difference with the CD I recorded a few years later on Edith Piaf , and to note how my voice had found its center and was much warmer and comfortable in its lower tones . I sell these at my shows .
The next shows are on January 17th and February 14th , at the Sofitel hotel in Beverly Hills , and then at Vibrato on February 21st , as my birthday celebration continues !
Then in summer I am working on getting some shows of mine going in Europe .
4. What advice can you give aspiring singers?
Never give up ! Always be true and committed to your talent!
Do it with class and don't be desperate!
Just be yourself !
5. What plans do you have for the future and where can we keep in touch?
I would like to record a new album that's international , inspiring , fun and different !
I've also co-produced a couple of independent movies this year, that are doing well in renowned festivals worldwide , so I'll probably go support .
Plus I'm creating a new one woman show on legendary 70's singer, Dalida .