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Resident opera singer seeks funding

Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
1:31 pm PDT June 9, 2014

Malibu resident Manny Sanoja has a little more than a week to raise approximately $1,000 to help fund his six-week trip to Paris, France.

The occasion? 

Three hours after submitting his audition tapes to the Franco-American Vocal Academy in April, Sanoja was selected as the lead tenor role in the company’s production of the comedic French opera, “La belle Hélène.”

“It’s kind of like a dream come true,” Sanoja said. “This role is perfect for my voice, and it’s a fun role. The opera is a comedy, so it’s very light in character and fun in that there’s a lot of vocal embellishments that suit my voice really well. I’m just really thankful to get it because a lot of people audition for these kind of things, and getting these roles isn’t something that happens every day.”

Sanoja has been singing opera for approximately six years. An undergraduate student at the University of Southern California Thorton School of Music, he originally entered college to study popular music.

“I was always a popular musician and grew up singing and writing pop music,” he said. “I was also in a band for a long time that was signed to an independent label, did some touring and had mild success with that.”

Sanjoa began studying classical music in college as a way to strengthen his skills with popular music. He said that as he studied more with his voice teachers, they began to hint that he should look into studying opera.

“I didn’t give it much thought, but me being a curious person, I went home and just Googled Pavarotti and whatever was popular in opera,” Sanoja said. “I just started seeing it here and there, but one thing led to another and I just fell in love with the music and everything that’s involved with it, including the acting.”

Sanoja said opera “embodies all of the most technically challenging and emotional aspects of music” that when combined with acting leads to an experience that “comes out in a really passionate and powerful kind of way.”

Sanoja, who has never before been to Europe, will perform in Paris in mid-August for six weeks.

“I’m just really excited and thankful for this opportunity,” he said.

To contribute to Sanoja’s fundraiser, visit