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How Opera Saved My Soul

03/05/2013 17:00 BST | Updated 03/07/2013 10:12 BST
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I was born in the south of Spain, where strong, dramatic singers are admired and loved. Being treated like true heroines, the divas are able to sing through their heartbreak and rise from the power of true love. They make the listener feel their every emotion.

When I was four years old my parents employed a beautiful young girl to come and look after us and our home. I remember it as if it was yesterday. Every Saturday, Conchita would come to our house. Early in the morning she would begin to sing opera as she worked. I used to sit and listen to her, studying her every move. The vibrato, the tone and the way she used to pull her cheek bones up and back whenever she hit a high note. I use to stare at her very intensely and I would think to myself that one day I would sing better than Conchita!

When I was five years old, I started singing opera, or it would be truer to say, I tried to sing opera. When you are that young it's pretty hard to imitate the sounds that the wonderful Maria Callas would project without any effort. I always said that Maria Callas was my teacher. My mother would play her records through the sound system that played in every room of our home - it was pretty fancy for Spain back then to have music all over the house.

Every night my mother would put us to bed to classical music, my younger brother would fall asleep instantly, but I was different and I couldn't sleep until the record was finished. I would secretly leave my room and stand in front of the mirror that was in the long corridor next to my room and I would dance and pretend I was Montserrat Caballé in La Traviata, I also learned how to cry whilst miming to Callas's Madame Butterfly and Tu tu piccolo iddio. I still cry listening to that aria.

I was just about to start taking vocal lessons when my mother took me to the Conservatory of Murcia where I was tested to see if I had the requirements to begin my singing career. Candelaria was the name of the woman that I had to sing in front of, and she would become my first singing tutor. She was a very recognised opera singer in the south of Spain. I chose to sing (very bravely I thought) Aria de la Locura from Lucia de Lammermoor by Donizetti after the Walter Scott novel The Bride of Lammermoor. Of course it wasn't perfect, but I loved singing it.

Candelaria told my mother that she had never seen someone so young doing what I did. I was just seven years of age. She said that she would take me in as a private tutor so I could advance faster. After that I was only able to take one lesson as my fairy tale life was coming to an abrupt end. My parents separated and we lost everything. Our home, the cars, everything. However the one thing my mother wouldn't let go of was our piano: a beautiful black straight up Yamaha. We had to move from a beautiful country family home to a small two bedroom municipal flat in the middle of town. I hated letting go of my memories. I especially hated losing my dog Lingo who was purchased with the rest of our things by a German couple that bought our house. I think that is why I don't like any German operas.

There was no longer a sound system in our home, it was replaced by the sound of cockroaches that would creep out at night. Going to the toilet in the middle of the night was a mission. I hate cockroaches and they were everywhere. My sister would practice her piano playing every day. She would play Clair de Lune by Debussy. I would sit on the floor and put my ear next to the piano. That was my 'dream away' moment of the day. I used to beg her to play it over and over again.

Not long after this we moved to the USA, where the adventure became like a movie. We went through so much during that time it felt like I was playing someone else. I kept my self safe in the beauty of my day dreaming. It was the only way to stay strong. And through all of this I would just sing, like Maria and Montserrat had both taught me. I was able to break through the heartache and the pain and to daydream about true love and happiness. I learned to vomit out my feelings and let go of my fears. I guess that is my one true talent, to be able to communicate and to make people feel what I feel and that way they can recognise themselves in me, making the listener feel like they are not alone. No opera tutor can teach these things, only life can give you this gift.

After years of ups and downs, we finally moved back to Spain when I was almost 16 years of age. My mother was in so much pain, not having been able to give me all she ever wanted to. She found Candelaria again and we went to do another trial to see if it wasn't too late to start again. I was so scarred, battered, unconfident and overweight. In my head I didn't have any of the virtues of that seven year old anymore. That day we only did some scales to see where my voice was at.

Not even five minutes of exercises had passed, Candelaira stopped playing the piano and looked at my mother and me and said we might as well go to a field and collect potatoes because I would never have a career as an opera singer. My heart broke and I never sang opera in public again. I only sing opera like Conchita had done whilst doing housework or in the shower - I always say bathrooms have the best reverb! I always knew I was going to be a singer and I was more determined than ever but I also wanted to become one of the heroines that I used to love. And that is when I started listening to AC/DC! Next week the video for my debut UK single, The Night, is released, and you can pre-order it now for download - and I like to think it's as much influenced by opera, as it is by AC/DC!

Last weekend at the opening night of the Celebrities on Ice tour, the compere for the show, Christopher Biggins, was told that I could sing opera and he asked me on stage, completely by surprise, to give him a little something. I sang a line from O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. The show's producers heard me from backstage and asked if I could sing an opera song for the rest of the tour. I have chosen to sing another Puccini song, Nessun Dorma, from the opera Turandot - that was pretty brave of me!

I must say it has been the most wonderful feeling that I have had in a long time. There are no words to describe the doubt, the fear, the pain, the joy, the passion and the daydream that I feel. It was like being a bird whose wings have been healed and I was able to fly again. I feel so grateful for this opportunity. And of course if any experts are listening I do hope they won't be offended - I am sure they will find a thousand technical issues, but what they will not be able to find is a lack of emotion, because all my soul is sung in every note.

Ruth Lorenzo's debut UK single The Night is released on June 16 and is available now for pre-order. Her video will be released next week, May 7