Capable, beautiful and full of positive energy, the Egyptian soprano Fatma Said with her formidable voice has won her place on the most prestigious lyrical venues.
Her success is also due to the efforts of her family who supported her every time the burden of prejudices and common places seemed to suggest she place her enchanting voice at the service of other schools of expression. This was true at least until her debut at La Scala in Milan in 2016. Today, Fatma is based in Berlin and tours the world, from Paris to the United States and performs with amazing naturalness, works ranging from Mozart to Berlioz, from Ravel to Mahler or Manuel De Falla. However, her heart is still in Egypt in Africa, and Egypt is in her blood and in her voice.
So much so that her recent debut solo album, El Nour, ends with four Arabic pieces: “In the West, nobody seems to know this music; just as among my people the classics and opera are almost unknown”, she said in a recent interview. “There is just one opera in Egypt; ‘Aida’ is a symbol even though very few have actually heard it. In Cairo, we have an Opera Theatre where countless performances of the Aida and folk or pop concerts are held. Nevertheless, there are also some new composers like Sherif Mohieldin, the author of Miramar, from the novel by Mahfuz. But the problem lies in the roots: there is a lack of musical education in the schools”. Fortunately, music, especially Great Music, the sort that varies so smoothly from blues to classics, from jazz to multi-ethnic folk, will always find a path that leads from the ear to the heart.
Fatma was still a young girl when she had her first singing lesson. From then on, her ascent into the unknown world of the Bel Canto has been unstoppable, without ever ceasing to learn and explore. She does this with great humility but also with great human sensibility: a tendency that has led her to represent Egypt at Geneva on the World Day of Human Rights 2014, and three years later, to present her art in the suggestive surroundings of Luxor to promote the rights of children to education and dignity. There is no need to mention her work for women’s rights which won her the prize of the Egypt National Council for Women.
Her technique is corroborated by her passion and interpretative eclecticism which in recent years enabled her to dress in the costumes of Nannetta in Falstaff, of Clorinda in La Cenerentola and of Berta in the Barber of Seville.
Furthermore, in 2016, the BBC had already marked her out among the most promising of the new generation of lyrical singers; but it is clear that her consecration took place on the exclusive stage of La Scala, under the sword of Damocles wielded by the most demanding critics of Europe. In 2020 Fatma’s performances have included a studio concert with the Bayrischer Rundfunk in Munich, recitals at the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Wigmore Hall, and an appearance at Leeds Lieder. She will also be part of the annual Concert de Paris and the Festival de St. Denis.
Fatma has shared the stage with renowned musicians such as Leo Nucci, Rolando Villazón, Juan Diego Florez, Michael Schade and Jose Cura and performed recitals with clarinetist Sabine Meyer and pianists such as Malcom Martineau, Roger Vignoles, Julius Drake, David Fray and Joseph Middleton. “I feel so fortunate to work with all kinds of musicians from across the world, and to perform music by so many composers from all over world”, comments Fatma. “The thing that connects us is music. It is a commonality, and I love that in listening to live music, in a way we create a moment of peace together”.
Open photo: Felix Broede