By: F. Anthony D’Alessandro – Aug 1, 2012
Walking thru a sparkling mountain stream, skiing after a fresh sunrise snow, running thru a summer sun shower are so refreshing. So it is with some people who saunter across the path of our lives. After conversing with them, we feel energized, upbeat and optimistic. They exude a refreshing honesty that brightens the rest of your day. Romina Arena defines joie de vivre. Chatting with her inspires and the rhythm, poetry and sensitivity of her words draw us closer to our Creator.
I could write volumes on the accomplishments in her brief three decades of life. I will leave most of those details to the book and the movie, scripted and based upon her life. To truly understand this gifted entertainer, one should visit and read that official biography and eventually watch the movie depicting her triumphant life. Both should be accessible soon.
A child prodigy, Ms. Arena started her career at 4 years of age as a Disney Mouseketeer in Italy. A musical genius and a trained ballerina, she also taught herself to speak ten languages. She accomplished this while travelling around the globe. Humble, Romina chooses to praise her Sicilian nuns’ teaching skills for her facility with this multiplicity of languages.
Tragedy rudely forced its way into her life and tar brushed her innocence. While on a musical tour, an assailant slashed Romina’s throat with a pocket knife. Comatose for several months, her mother Rita visited her every day, cleaned and washed her, whispered in her ear, and prayed endlessly. For years this devoted single mother with limited income, raised her child as best she could. An accomplished dancer, songwriter, and singer, Rita introduced Romina to the magic of music and helped to mould and hone her child’s talents.
Suddenly, her mother found herself isolated with her comatose child at her side. All that mattered to Rita at that moment was her daughter’s survival. Miraculously, the sixteen year-old awakened one day. Despite a tickle in her throat, she tried to speak to her mom immediately. Her lips moved, but her voice was absent. She broke into a cold sweat. Confusion overwhelmed Romina. Terror and frustration cast their ugly shadows over her. To make matters worse, her attending physicians told her that she’d never sing again. She felt her blood boil. The room seemed to close in on her. That life sentence was unacceptable to Romina. At that crossroad of her life she focused on the heavens and vowed, not only to speak without the medically predicted raspy voice, but to resume her singing career. As the cliché states, “The rest is history.”
During our conversation, Arena mentioned that her life appeared to be, “a series of strange coincidences,” and sensed that she was meant to make a mark on the world. Of course, she never forgot that vicious attack on her, but instead of hating the troubled perpetrator, she concentrated on helping others and developing her skills as a writer and singer.
Messina, Sicily native Salvatore Pacino (Al’s father) assumed the role of her father, took her under wing, and brought her to the USA to study. He and his wife Katherine helped pioneer a production company with her. Romina kept reflecting on a conversation she once had with the brilliant, Italian Oscar winning cinema music composer Ennio Morricone. At twelve, he’d served as her mentor. As a pre teen, she asked if she could work with him. Morricone suggested her going to America to study and then contacting him again. She ended up doing just that. Fate? A score of years later, he presented her with the opportunity to make a major recording based on his movie scores entitled, Morricone Uncovered. On September 18, 2012 the recording, showcasing Romina’s voice and lyrics will be released internationally by Perseverance Records.
Our interview flowed so smoothly that I tossed the rest of my questions into the pail. As alluded to before, Ms. Arena has a gift for uplifting her fellow man. She could easily assume the role of a “life” coach or a “motivational” coach. She said that her philosophy was,” To do something positive every day, and to avoid hatred because, hate only consumes you.” She adheres to those words in her day-to-day life. Thru numerous appearances and concerts, Romina raised moneys for the children of Haiti, the Red Cross, and the Yellow Ribbon group. That organization collects money for children of our military casualties in Iraq. She said, “If one is truly a humanitarian, then one needs to share.”
Quite witty too, she labels herself as the “anti-diva” since she laughs freely and frequently and loves to run around in blue jeans. Whether she regards herself as a diva or not, the fact remains that after her trauma, she was blessed with a five-octave vocal range and is the only female tenor (tenorette) in the world.
Multi-talented in a multiplicity of ways, Ms.Arena signed a contract to complete five books. Her first one will be released by Quill Drivers Books, in the spring of 2013. After talking about manuscript proposals, I put my notepad down.
I needed to clear up a recurrent thought I had about Sicily. I asked her if she ever intended to move back to Sicily. We discussed the notion espoused by many that “Sicily is the land of forbidden dreams.” A proud Sicilian she said, “I’m an ambassador for my heritage.” While she loves Taormina’s beauty, and owns a place in Palermo, she reminded me that she’d left Sicily to forget the pain.
Prior to leaving the Isle, she’d agreed to meet with her father. She’d not seen him since she was three-years old. She anticipated a joyous reunion and reconciliation. Before they met, he died suddenly and unexpectedly in Sicily. The attack on her vocal chords took place there too. There were too many sad memories attached to a homeland she’d loved. Arena paused for a few seconds, and then offered some words of wisdom someone once tossed her way. A movie director once told her, “You’re always where you need to be.” I asked her if she had any advice for me. She paused and shared a saying of her own. She wrote it and she followed it. Romina simply said, “Live the life you love.”
I’ve only provided a glimpse of this Sicilian who conquered America. Conquered America, you wonder? That was one of the headlines related to Arena, posted in the Giornale di Sicilia on January 29, 2012. I suspect that with her spontaneity, spirituality, courage, and talent headlines around the world will soon proclaim, “Romina Arena Conquers the World.” Everyone who samples her art or chats with her will feel refreshed by an artistic breeze, revive, rejuvenate and “live the life they love.”
F. Anthony D’Alessandro
|Shorter version of Romina’s press release ROMINA ARENA TO PERFORM SONG FROM MORRICONE UNCOVERED AT YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO FEST.The Greater Youngstown Italian Fest (August 3-5) in Youngstown, Ohio features Romina Arena performing her latest hits as well as, for the first time ever, a new song from her long-awaited album, Morricone Uncovered. She will perform at 7:00 P.M. on both Saturday and Sunday.
MORRICONE UNCOVERED TO BE RELEASED SEPTEMBER 18
The long-awaited album by Romina Arena, her voice and lyrics honoring several soundtracks by Ennio Morricone will be released by Perseverance Records on September 18, 2012. Morricone Uncovered will feature 15 tracks, adding lyrics in English, Italian, Spanish and French to several Morricone scores. This may be ordered on the Perseverance Records web site.