Don't tell the experts…
... that you want to take up opera singing when "it's too late".

"Dear Gia,
I'm preparing my trip to Europe. Would you let me know the date of your concert so that I can plan around it?

We were having breakfast during one of his trips to London when David asked me why I was bothering with singing lessons so late in life when I knew I would never get to sing in public.

"I'll hire an opera house in Italy and give a recital just for my friends!"
"In two years."

I hadn't expected him to remember; now he was holding me to it. I could either lose face, or carry out my plan. I chose the latter and so created the most memorable day of my life.

If you have a secret, an impossible dream, do you keep it to yourself or do you tell others and commit yourself publicly? I don't know. I guess it depends on the people you have in your life - in my case, I know that the people I had attracted in my life made my dream possible. What you must never do is tell the experts - they'll just explain why it is not possible.

When I told David about the concert, I did so half in jest; but he did not laugh, as far as he was concerned, it was a done deed. Though I had doubts, he hadn't. When someone sees you as having already achieved your ambition, you tend to do what it takes to make it happen - the true meaning of empowerment!

It's funny how you are attracted to what frightens you. Ever since I can remember I've been fascinated by opera singers - I couldn't think of anything more terrifying than standing up in front of a group of people to sing an aria. At school I would mouth the words of the songs, never daring to sing out loud for fear of being made fun of for singing out of tune.

Singing had always seemed to be an impossible dream and it became even more so when I left starting to learn to sing until - according to the experts - it was "too late". So I did not let anyone know my age….

My first singing teacher thought I had potential and when I wanted to give up, he kept me going. My second teacher told me much later that he did not think I would be able to pull it off. The only reason he accepted to teach me was that I was "so determined". I don't remember being determined; I do know that I did not doubt that I would give that recital. You do not need to behave in a particular way - your intention shows through, provided you are committed.

Despite all this support, there were moments when I had serious doubts; I would then envision myself singing my favourite arias in a stunning evening gown on the stage of the splendid 19th Century opera house - a stone's throw from Verdi's birthplace - the traditional gold and red horse-shoe shaped auditorium in front of me, packed with my friends.

They came from all over the world, not only to hear me sing, but also to sing and act in three staged choruses. Most of my friends had never sung before, so I arranged for them to be coached by a stage producer and a chorus master from The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden - they were transformed, as I was.