Interview with Maria Rota for Radio Maria,
New York, 2009

Maria´s Elementary School

On the Piazza, Guastalla

Maria Rota was born in San Rocco, a charming town in the Po Valley of northern Italy, the third child and only girl of five children. Her earliest years were happily spent amidst the farms, streams, and fields, and with the Poverelle (Little Sisters of the Poor) who lived right next door - literally. Maria would climb up a tree from her house and come down a tree on the other side of the wall between them!

Maria´s mother sang, and the sisters next door would keep quiet to listen to - what they described - the voice of an angel. Her grandmother also had a great voice and showed Maria, even at the age of 80, how to sing. Maria´s father adored his only daughter and loved her voice and spirit. Seeing her gift of music and performance early on, he would encourage her singing and theatrics in front of family and friends. Alongside her father, the Sisters also nurtured her early love of music and the stage by giving her the freedom and opportunity to perform in school and in church. At a very early age, Maria was on stage reciting poetry, singing, and participating in dramatic and comedic plays as well as musicals. She was part of a performance troupe that toured throughout northern Italy and she also sang solo in church choirs.

This idyllic early setting soon ended when, by the age of 14, both parents had died. Maria had full responsibility for a house, four brothers, and an elderly grandmother. Despite this difficult situation, Maria continued to sing and perform when she could, and always attended daily Mass.

As a twenty-one year old young woman, Maria finally had the opportunity to leave her home town and move to Rome. Despite all odds, she went on to earn a university degree in Elementary and Secondary Education, becoming the only one in her family to complete her education and go to college.

During this time, Maria met an Italian-American professor who was traveling through Rome on vacation. After a transatlantic letter-writing courtship, she moved to the United States to marry and begin a family. Maria enrolled in English classes at the local university and eventually earned another´s bachelor´s degree - this one in English Literature and Language, all while raising three daughters born in four years.

Maria´s professional career in the United States began as an Italian language and diction teacher at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. She taught singers from all over the world while also studying with leaders in operatic and classical vocal instruction in the Italian Bel Canto technique and style.

During this time, Maria also translated numerous books, acted as an interpreter and translator for the FBI, and taught privately.

Maria has performed in many churches and cathedrals, at private music clubs, international conferences, weddings, and funerals throughout the United States and Europe.

Singing for Maria has been the life stream throughout the course of her life, a gift from God that she generously gives to others.