“All Together Now”: Who is the candidate who won all 100 judges?
João Mendonza sang for Pope Francis in the Vatican and also performed at Toy’s wedding. He comes from Setúbal and is 29 years old.
João Mendonza is 29 years old.
In the second broadcast of “All Together Now”, Cristina Ferreira’s new TVI format, a competitor addressed all 100 jurors (in a particularly competitive episode). João Mendonza interpreted “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla, a theme that he dedicated to his deceased grandfather, the victim of Covid-19 (just a few days before the program started). After singing, he enthusiastically wanted to honor members of the health professions.
Taking into account the different versions of the program that have already existed in different countries, there are few cases of competitors who managed to win all judges. Setúbal-born João Mendonza (29) took part in a talent program for the first time – although he is not exactly anonymous.
The tenor decided to participate in “All Together Now” at a time when the concert halls are closed and the live music industry is stalling. The aim was also to gain visibility and reach different target groups.
João Mendonza is known for being part of the Passione group that started out as a trio about six years ago and is now a duo. In addition to João, the pianist Carlos Barreto Xavier is also there. The group has always tried to make pop songs sing lyrically, as artists like Andrea Bocelli and Il Divo do abroad.
In 2018 they had the special moment of their trip when they sang for Pope Francis in the Vatican. It all began a year earlier, when the Pope came to Portugal to the Fátima Shrine as part of the centenary of the apparitions.
João Mendonza and his Passione sent the CD they had recorded from the Rato Chapel in Lisbon – including his version of “Ave Maria” by Schubert – to the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference. The album was selected as part of the official state offer at the time of his visit, and it was the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa himself, who presented the Passione CD to Pope Francisco.
A few months later the Rato Chapel received a letter with the seal of the Vatican. They called João Mendonza, who surprised everything he did, left and went to the chapel. The letter from the Vatican Ministry of Foreign Affairs was a thank you that the Pope had signed in connection with the CD offer. Then they received an invitation to do a small performance in the Vatican.
On October 31, 2018, Pope Francis received the Passions in St. Peter’s Square, where they exchanged some Portuguese words. The next day they put on a small performance in the Church of Santo António dos Portugueses in Rome (where they performed this version of “Ave Maria”).
João Mendonza was brought up with a Catholic education – by the way, he sang in the choir of the Rato Chapel – and so this meeting with the Pope and his presence in the Vatican was a very special moment on his journey.
In a completely different context, he was invited a year later to play the same “Ave Maria” at Toy’s wedding while the bride Daniela went to the altar. They are both from Setúbal and Toy is a close friend of João Mendonza’s family. Parents have jewelry in town, and Toy has always been a regular customer.
João Mendonza has remembered Toy since childhood and that’s why he had this connection. In fact, at meetings of friends and private events, the two sang together several times – but always spontaneously.
After singing for the Pope, the Passione gave a concert in Goa, India, and on that trip they tried to reach out to another great spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. They traveled to northern India and went to their official residence, but could not reach it. However, it was left with the CD – and later a representative of the Dalai Lama confirmed receipt by email.
His big dream is to sing around the world on major international tours. When he can’t play – and the last year has been very difficult for the cultural sector in general – João Mendonza works on other projects. He has a guest house in Setúbal, opened a little street bar with his sister to think of the tourist public (which currently does not exist) and still works with the real estate agency where his father also works.
Like so many other musicians, he started singing as a child. He attended the Setúbal Regional Conservatory and then the National Conservatory in Lisbon. He finished the singing course at the age of 22. At the same time, I took a course in social communication at the Catholic University of Lisbon. He continued to work in marketing for some time, even though it wasn’t his passion.
The first time he sang in public, he was 11 years old – he played a prince in a children’s opera. The grandmother was one of the people who encouraged him the most. He had a piano at home and told his grandson João that if he would learn to play he could stay with him – and today it is the piano that João Mendonza has at home, where he continues to play and sing to practice his voice . even if concerts are not possible.