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More than a Beautiful Voice

An operatic prodigy whose journey from unexpected beginnings to international acclaim has been nothing short of remarkable

Life always throws us some unexpected curve balls and Jeanette Donatti is no stranger to the crazy game of life. Born and raised in Long Island, NY and on track to play D1 basketball for the school of her choosing, she was required to fulfill a remaining elective, with chorus being an option. She had no idea that one, simple scholarly choice to satisfy a school requirement was about to change the entire course of her life.

Choir class unraveled a hidden talent she never knew she was harboring—catching the attention of a perceptive teacher who recognized her operatic potential and enlisted her in a choir competition. Undeterred and fueled by competition, she practiced diligently over the next 5 months, swept the competition by storm, and ended up earning a full ride to Julliard; a feat many aspire to, but few achieve. Her exceptional talent transcended borders, earning her yet another scholarship for her master's studies. Italy beckoned—a destination not typically the first stop for aspiring opera singers. It was here that Jeannette's gift found even further validation, claiming third place over hundreds and the sole American among them.

Venturing beyond conventional norms, Jeannette leveraged early social media platforms, like MySpace, to showcase her artistry. Despite initial skepticism, her bold move caught the attention of prestigious opera houses, opening doors to performances across the globe, from Vienna's grand stages to Europe's cultural heart.

However, life's tempo shifted when motherhood took center stage over her voice in 2017. Embracing the role of a mother halted her performances, but it wasn't a hiatus from her ambition. She ventured into entrepreneurship, replacing her passion for vocals with a passion for coffee. But not just any café, Winfield coffee and sandwich shoppe in Naples fuses the craft of caffeine with tasty bites. Most coffee shops excel in the area of craft coffee, but fail to meet those same standards in the food department; Winfield decided that you can indeed, have the best of both worlds. 

But of course, with passionate, driven, and multi-faceted individuals, life rarely lets you relish in the calm for too long. Life's trials and tests intersected—a sequence of events, from delays during travels to terrifying incidents in Paris, formed the interlude in Jeannette's journey. In the midst of chaos, her resilience remained unshaken. Her unwavering belief in her craft kept propelling her forward and after meeting Livio Ferrari, one of the founders of Opera Naples, life shifted yet again and she reached out to her agent in Italy. She returned to the stage in 2022 and sang for the President of Malta, a significant honor, where her performance was televised, earning her even further recognition. Jeanette is truly an extraordinary individual and deserves every bit of respect for her drive and talent.

Towards the end of our interview, I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world an Opera singer maintains their vocals–knowing that the few attempts I’ve made at reaching an octave that could make the strongest of ears bleed, left me with a sore throat. She explained that her approach mirrored an athlete's training regimen; vocals are muscles and need to be exercised accordingly. She emphasized the importance of maintaining the delicate balance between rest and practice.

Offstage, her rituals for calmness involve meditation, mindful consumption, and a repertoire of physical activities like combat training, pilates, and yoga—a holistic approach to attempting harmony off the stage.

After hearing Jeanette’s story and learning about who she is as a person, there is no doubt that her past is a pure testament to the enduring power of following one’s dreams. She is a physical reminder that the most beautiful melodies often emerge from the most unexpected places and being open to possibilities is the path to understanding your true purpose.

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