The Growing in Holiness article series shares the stories of Catholics in the Diocese of Parramatta who are striving to grow in holiness through the means provided by the heritage of the Catholic Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraph 2013: “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” (LG 40 § 2) All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)
Lorenzo Rositano, a talented Operatic Tenor, grows in holiness through his vocation as an artist.
When performing roles, he grows in compassion for other people’s lives and experiences.
When singing at weddings and funerals, his work becomes a prayer, offering beautiful music to the Lord.
Lorenzo’s gifts have taken him on journeys across the world, which at times have been a homecoming and a pilgrimage.
Lorenzo singing the Italian national anthem at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup
“I take my acting very seriously too,” Lorenzo told Catholic Outlook.
While performing with rising Mezzo Soprano starlet, Anna Dowsley, in a production of Britten’s opera Albert Herring, Anna asked Lorenzo backstage 10 minutes before the Opera commenced, “Are you Lorenzo or are you the Mayor?”
“I in character said ‘My dear, I am the Mayor – and will be the Mayor until the final act’.”
Lorenzo’s characters have shaped his own character and expanded his understanding of other people’s lives.
“Some of the roles you play remain with you for the rest of your life,” he said.
When playing Rodolfo in La Boheme, Lorenzo empathised with the impoverished Parisian poet’s desolation and bereavement.
“In the struggle – it naturally makes you cry, which teaches compassion.”
“I never rehearsed crying – it needs to be real,” he said.
As part of his international training and performance, Lorenzo has spent time in the UK and Rome.
This was a homecoming and pilgrimage of sorts for him, whether in the Eternal City or at the Our Lady of Grace Festival in Calabria, where his family traces its roots.
One of Lorenzo’s performances was at the 2014 Christmas Carols for the Australian Embassy to the Holy See in Rome.
He struck up a friendship with Ambassador John McCarthy and his wife Christine, who is a concert pianist.
“We would have daily chats about religion over dinner for two or three hours at times,” he said.
“It was a pilgrimage for me in Rome – because of the company.”
Lorenzo’s experiences infuse his artistry with a deep sense of service and gratitude.
“Gratitude to be able to give a gift,” he said.
“If it was just a financial thing, which it is for many, then I would never perform. Every time I have performed at a wedding, the repertoire is chosen in order to sing to the Lord.”
“I want to quote St Augustine, ‘He who sings prays twice’.”
“Music given to God. That’s holiness,” he said. He also sees the discipline of music as analogous to growing in virtue in the religious context.
“Whenever I sing a religious piece I never take it lightly. You can tell the composer was influenced by a greater power. You feel it. An Ave Maria – to send someone off to Heaven, that means something to that soul.”
“It’s my duty being given this gift from God to give the public what they have expected from the music through my voice.”
“To me, it’s the exact Hail Mary, I think back as a kid when I learned it in the Rosary.”
Lorenzo recommends listening to different settings of the Ave Maria to sense the spiritual nuance in music and prayer. He suggests Schubert in mourning and for funerals, Gounod for celebration and weddings and the Caccini for its peacefulness and sense of contemplation.
“That’s the difference between an average artist and the integrity of a believer.”