Let's meet the opera singer Nobuko Alma Nakayama

Tokyo - Milano one way

When she was a child, she used to see the ocean lit up from afar. Today she enjoys Brera Botanical Garden aromas and colours. Nobuko Alma Nakayama is an opera singer graduated at the Milano Conservatory, a teacher and a mother also. From Japan, she arrived in Italy for the first time, passing through Berlin. Today she stays in Baggio district, an area she lives and frequents with pride, which positively influences her work. We asked her what she thinks about her choice to live in Milano, how the opera theater works in the city nowadays and how she misses her distant land. Here's what she told us.

Nice to meet you, Nobuko

Hi! Tell us something about yourself. Who are you and what do you do in life?

Hi, I'm Nobuko Alma Nakayama. I have been living in Milan for about 16 years, I moved here from Japan. I am a cheerful woman, lively and happily married to an Italian man for 11 years. I am a mother of three children, I’m in love with the city of Milano and its dialect. And finally I am an opera singer and music teacher.

 

How did you become an opera singer?

I started studying singing when I was 11, but, along with singing, I was also interested in ships - so much so that I wanted to become a naval engineer. Despite this ambition, in the end I chose to dedicate myself to opera. So I graduated at Milano Conservatory. Today I sing in theaters.

Milano and my job

When did you arrive to Milano?

In 2003 I moved to Milano from Berlin, where I used to study singing.

 

How and when did you decide that Milano would be the city to live in?

The first time I came to Milano, I was invited by my first Italian singing teacher, a Conservatory professor. I stayed here to live because I met my husband.

 

What do you think of Milano La Scala Theatre?

This is a very difficult question. Here in Milano, we have La Scala Theatre - a cultural and world heritage of excellence. La Scala Theatre is the opera world centre. However, like all theaters, La Scala also faces many challenges. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who work there and I know that they spend a lot of forces in order to maintain a high level of shows. This is why we need everyone to be interested in the theater. It is important to have respect for our opera house in the city.

 

Does Milano have any influence on your work?

Definitely. The city is so full of events and musical activities. There are so many opportunities to experience high-level music. I really like following jazz and pop music. Here there are many clubs that do live shows. The city is very welcoming even for all foreigners. My choir students, some of them from Milano, teaches me the dialect. These are wonderful experiences that I could never have done if I stayed in Japan.

My Milano

Tell us the area you live in

I live in Baggio. Baggio is a neighborhood that is turning into a wonderful crossover between the old Milano and the new one, with an artistic attitude. Here lies the nostalgia of the past: there are old shops, bars and an ancient church. In many streets of the old village there is a painted ceramic panel with stories dating back to the Middle Ages. At Christmas, the Sant'Apollinare Church opens a huge space entirely dedicated to the crib from the beginning of biblical history to the birth and death of Jesus. It is very famous and visitors also come from outside the city, also creating a great artists’ community. There are often classical music concerts, even free ones, because the artists who live in Baggio make themselves available into the whole area. I am very proud to live here, because the interest in culture is very high.

 

Where do you go out for dinner?

In Baggio there are many Milano restaurants with tastes and atmosphere of the past. And then there are also some original Japanese restaurants on the edge of the neighborhood, where I go so as not to lose my culinary origins.

 

What do you miss about Tokyo?

Probably I miss a bit all fast things in Tokyo. But actually I was only born in the capital. I used to live in Japan, in Kamakura, that in 1192 was the ancient capital of the Japanese empire. It is located just outside the center and it has numerous natural fields and streams. I miss the landscape I saw every day after school, returning home - tall trees and tropical flowers. From a distance, I watched the Ocean lit up in absolute silence. Maybe that's why I love Brera Botanical Garden, because I can find a peace that I knew a long time ago.