Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Argentine opera diva arrested for speaking too loudly on mobile phone

Argentine opera singer Gabriela Pochinki spoke today of her arrest at a top Manhattan restaurant for yelling into her mobile phone.

Pochinki said she had been talking to organisers of the Las Vegas premiere of Michael Jackson's film This Is It and apologised to staff and fellow diners.

"I'm so sorry if my telephone conversation bothered anyone," Pochinki said of her October 18 arrest at Nice Matin.

The soprano, who has performed in lead roles on stages around the world and recorded several albums, has been invited by Jackson's family to perform at today's Las Vegas premiere of the movie that chronicles the late King of Pop as he prepared for a comeback tour that never happened.

According to Pochinki's lawyer Barry Black, restaurant staff complained to her mother, who was having dinner with the 40-year-old singer, about the loud phone call.

"She was completely immersed in the conversation," Mr Black said. "At no time did she notice what was happening until a police officer appeared and told her to come along and they took away her food."

Pochinki was accused of misdemeanour disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and obstructing-government charges. But her lawyer and the singer said on Friday that the case was adjourned on contemplation of dismissal, meaning the charges will be dropped in six months as long as she stayed out of trouble.

"The case is closed. In six months, it will be as if nothing ever happened," Mr Black said.

The singer described the incident as a "bad moment" that she tried to "transform into something more positive". She compared it to the operatic tragedies that she had performed in - albeit, her experience had a happier ending.

Pochinki said that during the two hours that she was detained, on the verge of tears, she recalled Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss.

In that opera, one of the characters finds comfort in prison by singing. So she asked permission to warm up her voice.

"I started to sing (Somewhere from West Side Story) and midway through singing they all started feeling it. ... They also noticed that I was an opera singer and they applauded, they relaxed a bit. And my mom, who was outside, she heard me and relaxed, because she knew that everything was fine," said the singer, who has won numerous awards, including for best singer in the world at the Lyric Festival in Italy.

"When I was leaving, they asked me to sing one more song," she said. "It was the nicest thing, to feel what it's like to be on stage in person ... live and direct. (But) the justice system here is good, it's correct, and I appreciate it very much."

Born in Buenos Aires, Pochinki began singing when she was a girl and as a teenager represented her country abroad, appearing at some of the most important opera theatres in the world.

She has performed as Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte, Gilda in Rigoletto, Rosina in The Barber Of Seville and Nanetta in Falstaff. She was selected by conductor Claudio Abbado for the role of Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni.

She has also recorded several albums, including three classical ones with orchestra and chorus, as well as a Spanish pop opera album.

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