The absolute First Lady on the Hawaiian music scene
D’Andrea Pellettier comes from from Virginia Beach, East Coast of Virginia. She grew up immersed in arts as a result of the mixed different cultures of her home town. She comes from the Piscataway-Conoy tribe and she has a background in language, philosophy, and fine arts. Being influenced by the Spanish and Latin American culture she speaks Spanish as a second language and also masters salsa, flamenco, and merengue dance. At 10 years old she began studying the violin and discovered opera. She loved it right away. So she enrolled at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and majored in vocal performance with an emphasis on the operatic repertoire. An experience she describes as transformative was her participation to Puccini‘s Madame Butterfly with the Orlando Opera. Although she has been singing classically for many years she begun her career as a full-time opera singer just in 2019. Since then D’Andrea works to spread the culture of opera and to make it mainstream. Today she lives in Hawaii enjoying her days in a small village of Volcano, on the Big Island. Volcano is the magical place where the Queen of Opera was born.
There she works as a professional recording artist, and performs at the local community theater. Within 4 years she made herself known as an opera singer and lately as songwriter as well. In 2020 the Queen of Opera made her debut as a recording artist, by self-releasing her first round of singles including Vivaldi’s Sposa son disprezzata (Spouse I am despised), and Rossini Giusto ciel in tal periglio (Good heavens in such danger). During this time she collected several collaborations with other artists such as award-winning Welsh composer and musician Sion Trefor, with London composer and director Simeon Lumgair. Her first original composition Ave Maria with Simeon Lumgair was released last November. The same month she also released her first orchestral single Addio del Passato (Goodbye to the past) with the Compagnia D’opera Italiana Orchestra with based in Italy. Recently, she collaborated with tenor Sebastian Armendariz, with whom she recorded Sempre Libera from La Traviata. Last February she released a solo album entitled Initium, a diverse collection of favorite, and lesser-known, operatic arias and art songs, performed with stunning piano by Domenico Ricci and D’Andrea’s layered vocals. From her collaboration with Simeon Lumgair, on April 15th will come out X ♛ Ø (EXO).
X ♛ Ø is about stories interwoven in the power of our very human emotions such a sacrifice, grief, enlightenment, guilt, bravery, love, bonding, and passion, and how the music transmutes and interprets these emotions, the connecting link is the sounds of the human experience.
D’Andrea response to our request for an interview was very friendly. We are very happy to have got in touch with her and greatly appreciated the chat. Now it’s your turn to meet The Queen of Opera!
How about the woman behind The Queen of Opera?
D’A.P.: ”As a woman, I’m not afraid to embrace all the talents that God has given me to become the greatest living classical singer, on the superficial side as well as my musical abilities. I got perfect pitch from my dad and all of the rest of his musical inclinations. I got my strong sense of work ethic from my mom which made me always want to push to be the greatest at anything I did. From both of my side of the family, I have a strong sense of who I am and high self-confidence. Too often, women are expected to be demure and humble about who they are. This just isn’t me. I’m not shy about how I work. I take pride in the fact that I am not only talented, but my work ethic is unparalleled.”
I thought you had Italian origins. Then I realized that D’Andrea is not your last name, actually it is your name.
D’A.P.: ”My last name, Pelletier is French. My husband‘s grandfather was adopted by a French man, but his origins are Portuguese and Hawaiian. Unfortunately I can’t take any credit for the beautiful last name, but it does make for a wonderful stage name. I have been told, that my first name, D’Andrea is an Italian surname. My parents did that completely by mistake, I’m sure. I love that my name is unique and I have never met anyone with the same name as mine. By blood, I am mixed race American, with native, French, German, black, and Irish roots. I come from the Piscataway-Conoy tribe based in Maryland, and our family holds regular powwows for our tribe and surrounding tribes within the area.”
Can you share an anecdote from your beginning in music?
D’A.P.: ”I was 11 and at a strings festival at James Madison University I heard my first aria played on
the violin. It was an instrumental version of “O mio babbino caro” (Oh my beloved father), from Puccini’s Gianni Schicci. I had never heard anything like it before and something inside of me wanted to sing it before I even realized it was from an opera! The emotion was in the music and I was hooked from there.”
Do you speak Italian?
D’A.P.:”I don’t speak fluent Italian however I understand it very well because of my classical music training as well as being fluent near-native Spanish speaker.”
Have you ever been to Italy?
D’A.P.: ”I have never been to Italy but I certainly plan to sing there and lives in Italy ultimately. I have come to learn more about Italy in the past few years and I have a deep respect and appreciation for not only the opera culture, but the people and the beauty of each area. From the Amalfi coast to Rome, Florence to Venice: they all have a unique atmosphere that you can feel. I look forward to immersing myself in the culture and seeing with my own eyes to places that so many characters sing about in Puccini’s Arias, such as Ponte Vecchio and the Arno river. It is my dream!”
What is it about opera that makes you feel so passionate?
D’A.P.: ”I’ve always been immersed in performing arts from a young age, studying theater, competitive choirs, piano, violin, and dance from eight years old onward. Music is what I breathe, truly, and with perfect pitch I was always looking for more music in the classical realm. Opera was a natural next step for me. And it was the intensity of the music that drew me in. While I love classical strings, there is something about the human voice singing classically, when a perfect note is coaxed out of this instrument, it is unlike any other sound heard in the world. The drama of the music, especially Puccini, is what drew me in to the art.”
What’s an Italian opera you like?
D’A.P.: ”There are so many to choose from, I love Verdi‘s La Traviata very much, and have a soft spot for Puccini and all of his works, really. However, Vivaldi is who truly has my heart. I have become obsessed with his operas as of late, including Orlando Furioso and Dorilla in Tempe. His elaborate visuals and sets are out of this world! There is something so sensual about his music that is unlike what any other composer has been able to encapsulate in their work.”
What’s D’Andrea’s dream?
D’A.P.: ”Well really, I am living the dream! I am supported by my patrons while singing on a daily basis and bringing my voice to the masses. My passion is to introduce everyone to Opera by taking opera mainstream. This is why I have branded myself as The Queen Of Opera. It gets the attention of those that are in the industry as well as those who are not in Opera and not typically fans of the art. I find that by I have been able to reach more people by asserting myself as The Queen of Opera than if I were singing the same pieces in the same manner that so many sopranos before me have interpreted.”