In the extravagant world of a rare soprano

Opera singer

Often described as gender-defying, Mariño says he aims to inspire and unite across gender lines. “For me it’s more about different communities, Latinos, white people, black people, wherever you are, everyone can identify with this music, that’s what I want.


“I don’t often read what people write about me, they write so much about gender. Who cares what gender I am, I really don’t care. People ask me what my pronouns are, he/she/they/them, I’m like what, it’s okay,” he says. “For some people it’s important and I respect that, but for me it really doesn’t matter.

“In Spanish we say, ‘I am not a piece of gold that everyone likes’. I like it,” he says. “I don’t want to please everyone, I want people to have reactions.”

His speaking voice, like his singing voice, is high-pitched, and he was constantly bullied at school, both for this and for being gay. He started playing the piano at age six, then took up ballet as a teenager, which instilled in him a love for classical music, especially Tchaikovsky. “I want to invite people to be as fascinated as I was when I was 15.”

This year, Decca released Mariño’s second album, soprano, the first album to feature a male soprano singing tunes that are more often performed by female vocals. His next release will be very different, centered on “who I really am”.

“It will be much more than classical music,” he adds. “I haven’t decided on everything I would like to do, but I want to do collaborations, not just classic ones, by pushing the walls. It’s just music, why do we have to make all these big walls.

Beyonce and Lady Gaga are two artists he would most like to work with. “Some people are at the top of my list but in Venezuela we say, if you want something, don’t mention it!”

What is it in his voice that transports people, I wonder. “It’s the first time someone has asked me something like that. To be honest, I’m transported too, I’m not myself, I don’t know what my name is or anything. I don’t know if it’s my voice that is transportive,” he says. “Singing takes me out of myself. I think that’s why I sing so much, all the time. I want to be sure that everything will work and be able to fly in my head; I want everyone to fly with me.

Soprano, Samuel Mariño and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra perform at the Melbourne Recital Center on September 8, 10 and 11; and City Recital Hall, Sydney, September 14, 16, 17.