Young opera singer triumphs over brain lesion

September 16, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Sandra Marante, 25, a recent graduate from Roosevelt University master's program found that she had a mass on her brain since birth. She had a seizure while performing, and that helped doctors find the lesion.

But it was her music that gave her hopes.

It takes a lot of talent and training to have a voice like Sandra's.

"My first job was being a wedding singer, and I sang pretty much everything from Gershwin to Donna Summers to like Top 40 and Broadway musical stuff," the singer said.

Sandra sings in five different languages, a skill that requires a great deal of memorizing -- something she was afraid she would never be able to do again.

"The part of the brain where that AVM was where language, memory music is all located, and so it was pretty much a golf-sized ball of tangled mass of arteries and veins. And depending on where it was and how I use that part of my brain, [it] was all affected," Sandra said.

It was not the first time Sandra faced adversity.

"Before I went to my undergrad, I had another accident happen to me when I was burned -- about 40 percent of my body -- and that kind of decided me to become classically trained and I started singing opera," she said.

Vocal coach Dana Brown says Sandra has a fantastic voice.

"She sings opera very well, but I think you'd be really surprised how well she sings pop music or musical theatre," said Brown.

Proud mom, Maria, was thrilled that Sandra would be will be able to achieve her dreams.

"I could not believe that. Just a couple of months ago, she has gone through major brain surgery and some people in her place, myself thinking, 'I don't know if I would have been able to do what she has achieved," the mother said.

Sandra recently moved to New York to take the role of Belle in 'The Beauty and the Beast' at the Dicapo Opera Theater.

For more information go to or email Sandra at

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