It’s been a decade since Jonathan Antoine first auditioned on Britain’s Got Talent – and a lot has changed in his life.
Jonathan was just 17-years-old when he was thrusted into the limelight with singing partner Charlotte Jaconelli.
Back in 2012, the classical duo finished as runners-up behind dancing dog act Asheigh and Pudsey, but just days after they were beaten they were offered a £1 million record deal by Simon Cowell’s record label Syco.
The pair parted ways two years later, with Jonathan going on to have an incredible solo career and becoming a huge worldwide star.
Despite his global success, the 27-year-old opera star admits he is still a “big homebody” and lives with his mum, dad and sister in Hainault, London.
Speaking to The Mirror, Jonathan has opened up on how BGT “saved” him during a dark time and explained what is happening in his life 10 years on from his second place finish.
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Jonathan, who was training classically at the Royal Academy of Music part-time, says BGT came around “at just the right time” as he was struggling with mental health issues.
Admitting he was “at rock bottom”, Jonathan says he was in a state where he didn’t see a future ahead of him but had his life transformed by the ITV talent show.
“I was in a really bad place mentally at the time,” he tells us. “I’ve said many a time it saved me. It took me out of the situation I was in and put me into a different space.
“For a person who’s depressed that can do some really great stuff. To be around the glitz and glamour of it is illuminating. I was launched into a world I could never have fathomed. It’s been a stepping stone into having a whole life.
“I’m able to live this best life now because of what amounts to one Blackberry message 10 years ago. It’s crazy that tiny, little things bloom into these wild experiences.”
Jonathan and Charlotte wowed the judges when they sang ‘The Prayer’ during their first audition – with Simon comparing his voice to that of opera legend Luciano Pavarotti.
While the music mogul urged Jonathan to go solo, the pair remained together for the semi-finals and finished in second place during the final.
Admitting he is being completely honest for the first time, Jonathan confesses that it was “quite devastating” to lose out on the top prize.
“I remember the feeling of the organs sinking. I didn’t cry on stage,” he says. “You have to then think, with Ashleigh and Pudsey, their mission with animals, they’ll probably do more responsible things with that than I ever would. Wonderful people as well.
“Just remembering everyone that comes above or below you is made of the same stuff. We’re all flesh and blood and electricity coursing through them. That’s how you stay not despressed.”
Jonathan says in a way they didn’t lose anything as days after the final they were in the studio with record producer Graham Stack, who has worked with the likes of Britney Spears, Rod Stewart and Kylie Minogue.
After signing that mega recording contract with Syco, Jonathan and Charlotte released debut album Together in Septeber 2012 and second album Perhaps Love in August 2013.
However, they decided to split in February the following year after being offered solo record deals by Sony Classical.
Admitting he always wanted to go solo, Jonathan explains: “Charlotte raised up my confidence to the level I could go on BGT and we made someting beautiful.
“Neither of us had been ensemble arists, we loved solo performances, so it was the natural evolution of the thing. There’s only so much a crossover classical duo can actually do without starting to reinvent the whole thing.
“At the point I had the necessary confidence and understood myself a bit more I felt it was time to make the leap.”
Jonathan confesses the pair haven’t been in contact for a long time, claiming its been “quite some years”.
When asked about a possible reunion in the future, he replies: “Maybe in 20 years. I wouldn’t hold onto it in the next couple of months. It’s been a long time and I still have a lot of stuff I want to do myself first before I go back to duo stuff.”
His first solo album, Tenore, reached number one in the Classical Artist Album chart and he began touring in the UK and the US.
He has worked with some incredible legends, including Mexican operatic tenor Rolando Villazón and Italian painist Leone Magiera, who interpreted opera peices with Pavarotti
Grounded Jonathan has a strong family unit to support him – with his parents and sister recently joining him in America for his tour.
“I wil never be able to express the fortune I’ve had to be born into that family and have them look after me so well for so many years. Through the struggles and the good times,” says the grateful singer.
Jonathan still lives with mum and dad but has his own office space in the back garden, which is home to his collections of guitars and Lego.
His mum is reponsible for maintaining his stunning mane of hair, using three different sizes of curling wands to get his famous look while he is performing.
One thing that has changed about Jonathan is his appearance, as the BGT star has been trying to lead a healthier lifestyle and lose weight.
“I’ve still got a lot to lose but I’m making my way,” says the inspired singer. “I feel stronger and healthier than I have in 10 years, which is a lot.
“This year I’ve made an active choice. I’ve felt I’ve lacked the discipline a lot. When I was out in America its fast food everywhere. I was in a terrible state in the start of the year and I’ve been able to claw my way back doing light exercise.
“I’m a very big fella so heavy exercise would just tear me up. I’m working my way up, thinking about what I eat because that is important.”
Jonathan has been doing 10,000 steps a day, even if it does mean just pacing round the room, and feels he is now actually living his life.
He adds: “For a long time I wa sjust experiencing life, letting life live me, trying to find the next pleasue. Taking control of your own life, seizing your world with your hands, is very gratifying.”
As for what’s next, Jonathan will be performing at Ephesus in Greece this August, the ancient amphitheater where gladiators used to fight.
He has more shows coming later in the year and has teased a new recorded piece for people to enjoy with a “very famous, well-known reputable and legandary song writer”.
Jonathan says he has a never-ending list of things he would like to achieve, including performing on every contenant and at a bunch of huge opera venues.
But we may see him switch into a very different career, as the singer has a keen interest in writing and has started creating his own novel.
“I started writing this ironically because it was really cringe and weird. A thing only I would be itnereted in,” he tells us.
“I wrote a chapter a day for five days and thought it was really fun and I started to care for it. It’s become my child.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it but it’s tackling something completey outside of what you usually do. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s any good and if it is maybe you’ll see it.
“Like perfoming, you put a bit of youirself out there and you pray and hope people will enjoy it.”
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