Danish Imports: The Opera Singer

We’ve come to the end of our revisit to the Danish Imports exhibition, and today we’re finishing off with somebody who I’m very fond of.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these interviews and the images that accompany them. A lot of love and time went in to the planning of the exhibition itself, and there were many people who DIDN’T get to see it. Friends and family back home in the UK, for example.

So hopefully this has been an opportunity for everyone around the world (because all of my subjects come from somewhere other than Denmark) to find out just how it feels to move to, live in, or work in the happiest country on earth.

We finish with Gabriella’s story; a story about love, gangs and singing in the opera.


“I feel very safe and free here in Denmark,” Gabriella Pace tells me. The award-winning opera singer was born in Palermo, Italy, but raised in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo – a city she describes as very violent and crowded. Just weeks after telling me her story, Gabriella’s father was abducted by Sao Paulo gang members and driven around the city for four hours. Meanwhile the gang stole his car, mobile phone and wallet, and withdrew all of his money from ATMs before leaving him in a deserted part of town with enough money to take a taxi home. Despite ‘surviving’ the ordeal unharmed and in one piece, Gabriella is understandably concerned that the trauma could catch up with her father at some point in the future.

Gabriella moved to ‘calm yet cosmopolitan’ Copenhagen in April 2011, after falling in love with a Dane and marrying him in July 2013. They now live together on Vesterbro and Gabriella is still very active in the Opera scene, particularly in South America where she has made a name for herself since starting out professionally back in 1998. She made her Ålborg debut back in March and wants to sing more here in her adopted Denmark.

The Danish language and the small cultural shocks of everyday life have been the biggest challenges for Gabriella, but she feels that she is integrating well in to society. According to Gabriella, her Latin views of the world differ from the Scandinavians’, and this, she says, is her contribution to Danish society.

Gabriella speaks Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, English, basic Danish and French.

Getting the Shot

This one really was one of the easiest ideas to pull off. Ever! It was Gabriella’s wedding day (which is how I met her in the first place) and the weather was gorgeous. I had quickly figured out how friendly, happy and relaxed she was to be around, and there was nothing particularly traditional about her big day. So I suggested we hop on a bike and cycle down some cobbled streets. She loved the idea, so we got on with it as quickly as we could.

This picture required no fancy lighting arrangements or photoshop, just a long lens (70-200mm at f2.8) and a smiling bride in a white dress. And within two minutes we were done.