Gabrielle Portelli: 'Be proud of your successes but accept your failures as well because those are what allow you to grow'

Soprano Gabrielle Portelli tells all in our Q&A

Gabrielle is a Soprano currently finishing her undergraduate studies in psychology at the University of Malta. Gabrielle has been singing and performing since the age of eight. Since then, she has been studying classical voice at the Malta School of Music under the tutelage of Soprano Miriam Cauchi and done a variety of performances and wedding and funeral ceremonies. In April 2023, Gabrielle also made her debut at the Manoel Theatre during “An Evening of Italian Opera Scenes” where she interpreted the role of Rita together with the Malta School of Music Opera Studio, which she is an active member of. She has also been an active participant during master classes with Jennifer Larmore, Vivien Hewitt and Carlos Conde Gonzalez. Gabrielle was also one of 12 chosen participants in a three-week masterclass in Germany called “Oper Oder Spree” 2022 and was awarded a scholarship to attend the masterclass again in Summer 2023.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I switch on my phone and check my messages and social media.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be proud of your successes but accept your failures as well because those are what allow you to grow.     

What do you never leave the house without?

My phone, purse and house keys.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Cheerful, passionate and loud.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Learning not to constantly care about what people think of me and let it define me,

especially if their judgements are not constructive.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I have so, so many... but these are my current top three: Becoming obsessed with a particular song, playing it on repeat for an entire week and then becoming so sick of it that I refuse to listen to it again for a few months, watching Love Island Malta religiously and watching every cheesy and cliché rom com that exists.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Do not try to change yourself to please anyone, people will still choose to like or hate you either way.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

My phone.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

That it is completely ok to fail occasionally.

Who’s your inspiration?

My mother and my nanna Carmen, they are the strongest people I know. Their determination against all odds motivates me to keep going no matter what.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Believing in myself and in what I am truly capable of doing.

If you weren’t a soprano, what would you be doing?

Definitely a ballerina. I have been so mesmerised with ballet ever since I watched Barbie Swan Lake for the first time when I was three years old. Watching “The Nutcracker” at the MCC when I was 10 years old was a dream come true. Till this very day, I love watching clips from different ballets and have absolute respect towards the dedication, strength and grace needed for this beautiful artistry.

Do you believe in God?

I do believe that there is something far greater than all of us, however, I do not feel I completely believe in the God presented to us in the Bible.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Maria Callas.   

What’s your worst habit?

Biting my nails, scratching profusely and overthinking.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

Extremely confident, loud and talkative. Laughing non-stop and somehow, I suddenly want to express my love to everyone. I also start singing opera at random moments whilst doing horrible pirouettes (my top pick is usually “queen of the night” aria for optimal dramatic effect).

Who would you have play you in a film?

Anne Hathaway.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What music would you have played at your funeral?

Ave Maria by Michał Lorenc, Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor and Vide Cor Meum by Hans Zimmer for sure. I would want I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith simply because it is my favourite song of all time, even though it is not the most appropriate for a funeral.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My pet parrot Archie and my grandma’s pair of gold earrings both of which my grandma gifted me and a bracelet which my boyfriend has given me as a gift which I love wearing during my performances.

What is your earliest memory?

Going to Tenerife when I was three and having two small parrots placed on my inflatable muscles and a scarlet macaw placed in my arms at the water park by the park attendants – still have a portrait hung at home commemorating this unique moment.

When did you last cry, and why?

A few days ago, because of car problems.

Who would you most like to meet?

If I could it would be my late grandpa Paul, who passed away from cancer when I was just about a year old and unfortunately have no memory of.

What’s your favourite food?

Sushi and cheese, most specifically mozzarella di bufala and burrata.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Definitely, Amy Manford because she’s one of my favourite classical cross over singers and is currently touring the US with Andrea Bocelli.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

The 80’s - the music was so good, and I absolutely love the big hair and colourful clothing.

What book are you reading right now?

Unfortunately, I have not had the time and focus to read a good book in a very long time. The last proper set of books I have read for pleasure was the Hunger Games trilogy when I was 14. I really wish to get back into reading after I finish my higher diploma course next September.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Flying for sure.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Travel and explore every continent.

What music are you listening to now?

It’s always a mixture for me, really. I have a personal playlist and it has a mixture of all the classical, rock, rap, musical theatre, game/movie soundtrack and pop music that I like. However, lately, I have been obsessing over Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You, which is a new orchestral rendition promoting the new Netflix series Queen Charlotte.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I usually practice certain sections of pieces I would be trying to memorise and perfect. If I’m not doing that, I’m usually putting my playlist on shuffle and singing along to those songs instead.