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Emma Shapplin


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Born in Paris in 1974, Emma recalls as a young girl she was far too shy “even to make a noise let alone to sing” and her family were not particularly musical. But her musical passions were aroused at the age of eleven when she heard the Queen Of The Night from The Magic Flute. It was a moment of transcendence, although to her amused embarrassment, Emma admits this introduction to the world of opera and bel canto came via a television commercial. Nevertheless, a life-long love affair was forged. “I ran to my bedroom and tried to sing the tune immediately. That’s when I fell in love with singing for the first time,” she says. “I knew then I wanted to sing like that. That was the music that touched my soul.”

Unsure at first how to pursue her desire to sing, it was not until she was 14 that Emma met a teacher who could help realise her dreams. “She was a little old lady, about 70, and in her day she had been a great singer. She surrounded herself with candles and cats and her piano and I loved the whole atmosphere,” Emma remembers. “I touched these great scores for the first time and read the Italian words which seemed to have a mystery and romance.” She also told Emma that she was a soprano coloratura. “Singing was still like playing with a toy to me. She found my voice and slowly started to bring it out.”

Emma took lessons with her for two years and was convinced she had found her purpose in life. But she was also approaching an age when her parents were concerned about career prospects and her future. “They didn’t think singing could ever be a proper job,” Emma recalls.


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