UAE opera artist creates unique version of classic track from 'The Godfather'

Luiza Formenius puts a modern twist on the film's love theme 'Parla Piu Piano'.

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Enid Grace Parker

Published: Mon 22 Aug 2022, 2:59 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 8:34 AM

As Hollywood classic The Godfather celebrates fifty years in 2022, there’s no doubt that the film’s popularity has endured, as has its music!

The ever-familiar, rather haunting love theme from The Godfather continues to inspire cover versions including the latest by UAE-based Swedish artist Luiza Formenius who has transformed Parla Piu Piano into a modern track, without losing the magic of the original.

Experiencing Luiza’s dazzling cover on YouTube and watching its accompanying video, you are engulfed by nostalgia as well as admiration for the opera-soprano artist who has transplanted the magic of a 50-year-old tune into a local setting (the video for Parla Piu Piano is shot in the abandoned village of Al Madam in Sharjah, and has already racked up over 400,000 likes).

Parla Piu Piano is Luiza’s fifth single, coming after her December 2021 release I’ll Be Home For Christmas. The talented artist believes in putting her unique stamp on popular tunes, she told City Times in a recent Zoom interview.

On what made her decide to record the classic Godfather track, Luiza said, “I always try to choose tracks that are recognizable and then put my own twist on them. The Godfather track is one of those melodies that you can recognize even if you haven’t seen the movie, so I decided to try it out. I didn’t want to change the melody; I wanted to keep the darkness of the original soundtrack, and then just put a bit more of a modern twist on it.”

She added that the fact that the track released amidst the movie’s 50-year celebrations is “super-exciting”.

Luiza who has grown up in the UAE and lived here for 26 years now, also paid tribute to her music producer, Erik Lewander. “I recorded the song in Stockholm at the studio where I recorded all my tracks. I have an incredible producer who I work with, who really understands the sound that I want to achieve and he manages to make it into this incredible track.”

Shooting the music video for Parla Piu Piano, produced by Sweden’s Nikeisha Andersson, in a deserted area of Sharjah was fun, said Luiza. “When I was being pitched the idea behind the video, I said, this is the perfect place to do it… it has that eerie feel to it. It was the first video that I shot in the UAE.”

Luiza is an artist who wants to engage her audience on a “deep emotional level” through her unique sound, a fusion of styles which she described as “a mix between traditional opera sound and a more modern feel”.

Among her musical influences are British rock band Queen and American singing legend Elvis Presley who she takes “a lot of inspiration from”. Mention the new Elvis movie, and she commented how she “cried buckets” at the end. “I loved it; it’s so good,” she said of the Baz Luhrmann-directed blockbuster starring Austin Butler in the titular role.

Luiza began taking singing lessons in the UAE when she was 12 years old.

“I had a really incredible coach who inspired me and really brought out my love for music and opera. From there, I kept studying; I went away to college and then continued studying music privately, even though I took a business degree. When I got back to Dubai after university, I met my manager, and he managed to get me signed with Universal Music MENA, which was definitely the big break for me. That was probably the coolest day of my life!”

Starting her singing career in the UAE, stressed Luiza, threw up many chances that she might not have had elsewhere.

“At the time it was an up-and-coming place. I definitely had huge opportunities to perform and learn from people, that I probably wouldn’t have had if I’d grown up in Europe. I’m eternally thankful to the UAE. I think it’s incredible what they are doing now; the music scene is really developing. There are so many more concerts now, and artists coming, and I think that there is a much larger group of local artists, which is incredible. It’s so great that in the UAE, they really do try to present local artists to the world.”

Luiza expressed that she was “super happy” live gigs are pack post pandemic.

“Artists can’t survive without them. It’s our bread and butter and also, it’s really what makes me, as an artist, able to stand up in front of people and share my music with them. The pandemic was really tough - it definitely made me question a little bit… should I still continue with this? But I think my love for music just had to come through. I used the time to record a few more tracks and do some of the creative work that goes behind the scenes.”

When we enquired if a full-length album was in the pipeline, she shared that it would probably be out within the next six to eight months or so.

As someone who harbours such a deep passion for music, what is the one song that always inspires Luiza?

Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a song that was really ahead of its time. It’s timeless.”

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