Matteo Setti
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Matteo Setti Biography

Matteo Setti is everything you want from an Italian singer — handsome, passionate, and in possession of a silky smooth voice that has been compared to the tone of Stradivarius violin. While fronting a rock band in 2000, the Modena native was tapped by Luciano Pavarotti to star in the Pavarotti-produced touring version of the musicalRent, which Setti followed up with performances in several other musicals in Europe. Having made his American debuts at The Cutting Room in New York City and the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, Setti is now ready to launch his singing career in America with his self-titled debut album and the filming of a live concert for PBS. A charming and expansive performer, Setti takes his audiences on a musical journey that illuminates his desire to bridge the gap between his love for American pop and his Italian heritage.

He does just that on the songs on his captivating album — which range from Italian romantic classics, to big band-driven swing versions of contemporary pop tunes, to American Songbook standards, all the while showcasing his powerfully unique voice and sizeable interpretive gifts as he croons his way through Domenico Modugno's "Volare," Lucio Dalla's "Caruso," Ray Noble's "The Very Thought Of You," and Jimmy Webb's "Is There Love After You." He also puts a surprising swing-pop spin on Lennon-McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby," Adele's "Skyfall," and Bruno Mars' chart-topper "Locked Out Of Heaven." "I love the timeless elegant quality of big band jazz and swing music," Setti says of his decision to interpret tunes from the American Songbook as well as modern hits in the swing-pop style. "I also love the playful energy of it. As someone who comes from a musical theater background, it allows me to use all of my performance ability when I sing, not just vocally, but also my physicality."

Growing up, young Matteo was steeped in the music his father Franco (also a professional singer) listened to, and became enamored with such icons as Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand, and Aretha Franklin, igniting his love for America. Queen frontman Freddie Mercury was also a huge influence and Setti fronted an internationally acclaimed Queen tribute band called Radiogaga in the late '90s. It was while performing with that band that he was spotted by one of Luciano Pavarotti's associates who was so impressed that he approached Setti about auditioning for a musical that Pavarotti was to produce: Jonathan Larsen's Tony Award-winning Rent.

"After auditioning for the part of Roger in Italy, I flew to New York to meet the man himself," Setti recalls. "It was an honor to meet him and to perform in his musical." From 2002 to 2009, Setti played the narrator Gringoire in Italy's musical-opera, Notre Dame de Paris. (Setti signals the importance of that experience by including one of the show's best-loved songs, Le Temps des Cathédrales, on his album.) This was Setti's massive breakout role, and he performed on the original cast recording released by Sony/BMG. In 2010 he starred as Giacomo Casanova in the Pierre Cardin-produced Casanova: Love and Intrigue in Venice. The show was staged in Paris at the Espace Cardin, then at the Opera House in Athens and at Moscow's historic Kremlin theater.

Other highlights of Setti's career include being chosen by The Vatican to record the song "Non Abbiate Paura" ("Have No Fear"), which aired in over 60 countries the morning Pope John Paul II was beatified. To this day, it is the only musical piece for which the Vatican has given permission to use Pope John Paul II's voice. Also meaningful was Setti's participation in a study led by Dr. Claudio De Felice that observed the effect of live singing on young patients with Rett Syndrome, a form of autism. A neuropsychiatrist who had read the study remarked that the uniqueness of Setti's voice, the way he suspends his external breathing, mimics the frequency of a violin and has the effect of relaxing the patients and reducing symptoms of the disease.

Now Setti is ready to use his vocal talent to seduce America by releasing his album, which was recorded in Nashville with producer Fred Mollin (Jimmy Webb, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Mathis). In addition to the classic songs mentioned above, the album also features a powerful original song Setti-co-wrote called "My World Is Burning," which further displays his versatility. He will also star in his own PBS special in August, performing songs from the album in addition to several crowd-pleasing favorites, like the Neapolitan standard "'O Sole Mio" and "Luck Be A Lady," popularized by Sinatra. "To be an unknown artist in America and to be invited by PBS to do my own special is thrilling," Matteo says. "I think about the artists who have done them, like Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Sting, and David Foster, and to be in that company is unbelievable to me."

Of his album, due in August, Setti says: "It tells my story, from my background in the theater to becoming a solo performer. My dream is to be a great touring singer across the United States. I love Italy, it is my home, but the possibilities just seem endless in America."

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