Senior Idol Winner Josephine Dolce Talks Opera and Age
Many older crooners sing with more feeling and humor because they have life experiences that give them awesome emotional range. And Senior Idol's 12 competitors belted out crowd-pleasing tune after tune, bringing laughter, tears, and joy to a crowd that doesn't always stay out so late.
Crossfade spoke with the winner of Senior Idol, Josephine Dolce, who blew the audience away with her operatic style and solid pipes.
Crossfade: You were wonderful tonight. Are you a trained opera singer?
They said you went to Juilliard?
Yup. Four year scholarship to Juilliard. When I was young out of high school. I was 18 when I got into Juilliard.
You grew up in New York?
I grew up in New York, in Brooklyn, New York.
Did you go to Broadway shows when you were growing up?
Oh, Broadway shows. I went to the opera. I performed with the local opera companies. I was a finalist with the Metropolitan Opera Company and concert work. I did concerts in the Midwest with colleges and universities. I also am a music director at Church.
At Saint Lucy in Highland Beach.
Did you have a favorite musical or opera when you were growing up?
It's not a matter of the opera. It's a matter of the composers. My favorite composers were Puccini and Verdi. And of course, those are the most melodic operas and beloved operas. I mean, they're romantic and the melodies are unbelievably beautiful. Just fabulous music.
When you're onstage, both of your performances were very emotional. What are you thinking about?
I'm thinking about what I'm singing and I try to become the person in the piece that I'm singing. Like tonight I sung "O Mio Babbino Caro," which is from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Puccini. So you become the woman in the opera and you try to portray that. She's asking her father to please allow her to marry this man. She wants to get engaged to him. And if he doesn't give his acceptance, she's going to kill herself by throwing herself into the Arno River. This took place in Florence, Italy.
It's romantic, right? (Laughs) Well, the father gave in anyway. But you try very hard to take the song over, you know. You listen to the lyrics and you try to take on that persona of that person.
How do you feel about being the Senior Idol? Do you watch these types of shows on TV?
No, to tell you the truth, I came to see Senior Idol here last year for the first time. I didn't know about it. And I said, "Oh, my! This is fantastic." Well, the group of people that were here tonight to perform were wonderful. And they were just a great group of people to be with. So I liked it. I enjoyed it very much.
Do you still sing?
I still sing. I sing with the symphony orchestras here in South Florida, Symphonic Pops Orchestras, and I do club work as well. I sing in different communities doing concerts. And I'm having a wonderful time with the singing. I love it.
You said your husband was your greatest accomplishment onstage.
Yes. Best thing that has ever happened to me was my husband.
Do you guys sing together ever?
No, not really. He just enjoys my singing. [Laughs.] One singer in the family is enough!
What are you going to do with the money? Pay bills, go on a trip?
To tell you the truth, I really haven't thought about what I was going to do with it. But yeah, a trip sounds good!
How long have you lived in South Florida for?
It's going to be 11 years.
Do you have a favorite memory of a performance you've seen?
Going back, yes. One of my very favorite heroines that I've played was Violetta in La Traviata. That was one, the other was Madame Butterfly.
So, you look beautiful tonight, you're wearing a lot of shiny...
Glamorous! Do you feel like that helps you onstage? Do you feel better because you look like a star?
Yeah. You should always try to look your very, very best when you're performing because it says something about the artist. And also, you're kind of honoring the audience by dressing up for them. It helps with the performance, I think.
How do you feel about being a little older? Do you feel happy that you're still able to perform?
I've never felt better in my life. I feel better than I did 40 years ago. I'm going to be 68 years old. And believe me, I'm singing better now than I ever did before. I think Florida has something to do with it!
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