We'll begin the first part of our show, "A Date with Destiny", by greeting Mikelangelo. You recognize Mikelangelo from the unforgettable musical Mozart l'Opéra Rock. So, tell us about your life. What was it like 24 hours before going to the audition? Where were you in your personal life?
It was nothing but work. My biggest project was during New Year's, and I was sick, I had a fever and everything, but I was acting at the same time.
And so one meeting in the middle of all this work changed the course of your life. What happened?
I met a man--I couldn't even say a man because he was very boyish, he seemed very young--and his name was Jean-Pierre Pilot [one of the writers of MOR]. And I met him, he was in my path. At the time I had my best friend, she had met me during my concerts and everything and we decided to live together, so for nine years I lived with an incredible girl named Marie.
Was she your girlfriend?
No. That's the incredible part. That's the incredible part. We were like siblings. Both of us worked with art. She was a dancer, kind of an actress, a little bit of everything, and I was a little bit of everything too, I don't know to what degree, but we were both a little bit of everything.
This Jean-Pierre, did you meet him on New Year's eve?
No. Actually, I met him- a friend of mine plays guitar, who yells up at my window, and I answered that day. He told me to come see Zazie and that he had extra tickets--she's a musician that a lot of people know.
Zazie our [France's] singer?
Yes, your singer. So yeah, I went to see Zazie at the Forum de Lièges--I lived in Liège at the time--and afterward we all went to a café--
Who is "all"?
Zazie with her team of musicians.
How did you get an invite from Zazie?
Because I was one of the big musicians, like my friend, who all knew each other a little bit, they were in the same big family. So I went to grab a drink with them, and when I got there Jean-Pierre saw me and he said, "Who's that guy?" Because I walked in like Mick Jagger, but I wasn't Mick Jagger. I went over to sit by Zazie and we were talking about all kinds of music, and then Jean-Pierre Pilot started asking people-
Oh, is that Jean-Pierre Pilot? [in the picture on the screen]
Because we don't know who he is. So it's this fellow. What does he do?
He's a composer and creator, he's behind a lot of albums and has worked for a lot of very famous musicians like Zazie and Christophe Wilhelm...
Okay, so he was there at that moment.
Yes. And he saw me, and he went "Whoa! That dude!" No, he must have said to himself, "Either this is a bunch of nonsense or he's really really good. It's one of the other." And we lived just across from the café, so we were like "Come see my house", and it was a three-story house with posters and all that stuff, just totally crazy, and he saw all that he said, "There's no way!" and when I showed him my bed I went, "Look, Jean-Pierre, it's--" how did I say it? I said- I said, "a little bed for a great man." And he said "You really are full of shit." But that way I felt like a king in a paper kingdom I had built for myself in my head. But he called up Dove Attia and Albert Cohen and said "I think I've found Mozart."
Alright, now you can tell the next part of your story later on in our show.
Later on, Mikelangelo has a surprise for you!
It's called Memory Day.
Alright, go ahead, the stage is yours.
You'll hear his exclusive song that he only just finished composing. Mikelangelo on the piano, right after the break!
One meeting changed their lives, that's the theme today and we continue with Mikelangelo, who was telling us that Jean-Pierre Pilot invited him to an audition one evening when he was out with Zazie and her musicians, and he recognized the artist in you. The difference. And the talent, probably. So he asked you to audition for a musical?
Yeah, he looked at me and he didn't say anything, he returned to Paris--we had met in Belgium--and afterwards he called my best friend and said, "You know your roommate, the performer, we might have something for him." But what he suggested wasn't really interesting to me because it was a musical.
But he did ask you to play Mozart in a musical? The title character? And that didn't interest you at all, being in a musical?
Just imagine--it's weird, imagine someone saying we're going to do a musical about Mozart and you're Mozart. But hadn't been-- I thought of Mozart as something sacred, something important, and playing him in a musical just wasn't a good idea.
Right, it sounds low-end. It isn't worthy of Mozart's level.
It was certainly high-end but didn't seem like a good idea for me.
So you said no?
I said no, that's right. I just said forget it. I didn't even answer.
That takes nerve, though, for a guy who's between projects...
I'd never done the audition for reality television, I was a performer who didn't line up to get a chance to sing, that's all. I believe an artist should have a precise message to transmit on TV--the television isn't there for people who sing, people who dance, because that makes you a street performer.
So how did the audition catch up with you if you didn't respond?
Well, after two months--
For two months they didn't give up on you?
No. Except, well, Jean-Pierre Pilot talked to that girl Marie again, who let him hear a thing I'd sung, and when he heard the voice he went, "Oh, okay, yeah, that's a guy who--" I don't think of myself as a super great singer, but I believe that when I sing I have an honest voice; when I sing, I really express myself. I use song to express myself and not to show off my voice. And I think he must have noticed that, and--
You're an interpreter [this word applies to singers in French].
That's right. So Jean-Pierre, at that point he called me after two months, and that time he talked to me. We talked and he said, "Listen, you didn't really understand, it's not just a musical, it's this, it's that," he explained the details to me. And when he started saying "rock opera" I said, Ah, okay, that's the first time anyone has put "rock" and "Mozart" in the same sentence. Yeah, because we all think of Mozart as a rocker but nobody ever said it that way.
So did you go to the auditions?
Yes, I showed up at one of the last auditions and they told me, hey, come this way, and if it doesn't work it doesn't work.
Were there a lot of people in line?
Something like five thousand, I'd say.
Five thousand people in line?
They wanted to do Mozart, yes, of course.
Okay. So did you wait?
I did, there were a lot of people who were waiting--obviously the auditions weren't just one day, it took several days-
Did you wait? Like a good boy?
You waited your turn.
Yes. I did a thing on the guitar--right when I walked onstage I realized that they were looking at me kind of funny. I remember my hair was orange. I wanted highlights but I hadn't done it right and my hair was orange. So, I introduced myself onstage and they said, "Did you do your own hair?" They understood right away. I said yes. They said, "Listen, you sang really really well, but you will never ever ever ever ever be a hairdresser."
So they were under your spell.
Did they tell you right away? That you'd been chosen?
No. I knew I could be Mozart but I told myself it was impossible that at a French audition they'd choose an Italian who lived in Belgium and who'd traveled all over and who didn't know French or anything!
Because at the time you didn't speak French the way you do now.
I spoke in a much more- in a way that was less fluid.
So you were chosen to play Mozart, and more than one million four hundred thousand people saw the show, eight hundred thousand albums sold, three NRJ Music Awards, with a 3D version coming out the 25th of November in two hundred cinemas for one week only. We were there the day before the premier with this story that we're calling "On the Road to the Stars".
This is Mikelangelo, alias Mozart. And this is Marie, his best friend and former roommate.
I met him about twelve years ago, all made up, charming, with his accent, his French was a little worse at the time of course, but as soon as I met him I felt really strongly about him, and it's still the same today.
At the time, Mikelangelo and Marie already had plenty of artistic endeavors in mind.
We started talking about art and she said, "You know, I do dance lessons but my dream is to be onstage." and I said "No problem, we're getting onstage." Straightaway. And we did it. We did concerts, things like that, Italian television.
Because Mikele took me on as a dancer, and he made my costumes.
This is a wing that you'd put on like this.
And I danced with that.
But they never would have imagined that ten years later, Mikelangelo would get the starring role in a musical, and Marie watched every rehearsal with the same reaction each time.
I still feel the same thing, it's the feeling that he'll go on to even more success after this.
-We came for him!
I know there are a lot of Mikele fans here. I recognize them from other places. They're really very faithful.
-Yes, very generous, very nice, very approachable.
-He's really very nice, he's lovable.
Tonight, Mikelangelo and his fans are going to see the preview screening of the musical in 3D.
He has everything you need to succeed, but of course that starts with one thing first.
And even though Marie and Mikelangelo are very close, she's a true fan as well.
I'm going to see my roomie in 3D, it'll be amazing. I'm excited, I'm ready.
Backstage, just after the screening while Mikelangelo prepares to go onstage to sing, he receives a surprise visitor. This is Jean-Pierre Pilot, who discovered him.
-I was on tour with Zazie, and one day we go in a bar, and we see this guy enter with his girlfriend and with such a sunny insolence! He was already a star with his face, his aura, and one day I heard one of his songs, and his exceptional voice, and when they told me they were looking for Mozart I thought of this character.
That's the meeting that changed my life.
For now, Mikelangelo has an audience waiting. In several minutes he'll sing in front of more than a hundred thousand people [including me!!].
When I hear all these people shouting and waiting for us, it's bizarre. It's like the first time.
How do you feel seeing those images again?
It's the thing that gave me all these opportunities to express myself. It's Mozart l'Opéra Rock.
And where do you all stand today? With your artistic career?
Well, in my heart I have so much sympathy for the producers who chose me, so Dove, Albert, everyone who believed in me, of course, so I'm in a situation where I appreciate and I comprehend how much they did, and I'm preparing a personal album.
Do you still work with them?
You appreciate them, but you need to spread your own wings.
Yes. That's right.
That's great, because you're demanding, you haven't let yourself fly too close to the sun.
It's really not humility or honesty, it's just after a while you've got to stretch your legs. It's good to keep changing. I'm doing it very honestly.
Are you afraid that people won't follow you on your new path?
Yes, of course. But it's not a problem for my music, just for me, but it'll be alright in the end.
Thank you, good afternoon, and we're going to let Mikelangelo play us out.