INTERVIEW: Greek soprano Anastasia Zannis 'always tries to celebrate what connect us'

Eman Youssef in Athens , Friday 30 Sep 2022

Anastasia Zannis, the renowned soprano, talked to Ahram Online about her upcoming performances in Egypt and the power of music to connect cultures and people.

Anastasia Zannis
Greek soprano Anastasia Zannis speaks with Al-Ahram writer Eman Youssef during the interview

 

The Greek crossover classical singer, Anastasia Zannis studied classical music at the Athens conservatory.

Zannis assured that her upcoming two performances in Egypt will be the best possible celebration of the unique cultural relations between the two countries.

“Egypt is a beautiful country; I am very excited to perform on 1 October at the Bibliotheca Alexandria, and at the Cairo Opera House in the open theatre on 2 October, with a collaboration of the great Egyptian orchestra Al-Nour Wal Amal. It is a unique orchestra and one of a kind worldwide.” Zannis said.

Under the auspices of the Greek embassy in Cairo, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, the event will be dedicated to Iakovos Kampanellis, the famous Greek poet and writer.

According to Zannis, the concerts will be a celebration of the Greek-Egyptian friendship. Culture and music connects the people and makes any message stronger, confirming the great collaboration of the two cultures.

“Really, I got very emotional about the cooperation with the unique women of the orchestra. It will be very special performance.

Egypt is a great place and multicultural; I will be singing in Greek, Arabic, Italian and English. I will sing one of the great songs of the famous singer, Fayrouz.” She said.

“For many years now, I have been travelling a lot and represent the Greek culture. I was in New York for ten years and I try to connect the cultures. I had the honour to perform in concerts with many musicians from different countries.” She added.

Zannis emphasised that these two concerts are her first performance in Egypt. “I visited Cairo before on the occasion of the Greek language day at the Greek Culture Centre in Cairo, to honour and celebrate the day; I was very happy to share a traditional Greek song about the people who miss their country. The Greek ambassador to Egypt also made a speech that day,” she said.

“In general, I always try to celebrate what connect us. I believe that artists and singers have the power to connect the souls, which is very important,” Zannis added.

As for Egyptian music, Zannis noted that it has special rhythms, saying “the way we count the music, usually in the United Sates they count up to four beats, but the way they have the beats in Egypt is more complicated, and that is what makes the music more exotic; also in Greece we have very complicated rhythms, we have the dances and the pontiako.

“I took it as a challenge to learn Arabic music, I like it and I am fascinated; it takes me to another dimension,” She added.

“I used to be an athlete, it teaches you to be discipline in everything. When things are difficult, I do not lose myself, I stay focused. When you are a good team player, good things happen,” Zannis commented.

Referring to her special moments, Zannis said that performing at the great Acropolis last year, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Greek revolution, was a very special moment for her, “I am very proud and honoured to be selected to sing the Greek Anthem,” she said.

Zannis also added that Egypt is a great country with rich culture; she likes the amazing singer, Oum Kalthoum and Dalida.

“Egypt is growing and has amazing culture and very strong position in the word. Egypt and Greece have the best collaboration and friendship. Life in Egypt is great and beautiful, the people are so open, I like the music and the food. You never get bored in Egypt. My favourite place is the pyramids, it was impressive.”

“The distinguished singer, Demis Rossos is one of my idols who gave me the best advice which is never give up. I also like Vangelis Papathanasiou, the famous Greek composer and Oscar winner, and the amazing Maria Callas,” she said.

“I like to be with inspiring artists and singers because you always learn something. When I was young, I was listening to jazz music, and I also like the classical music; my family always support me,” she added.

“One of my dreams was to perform in New York, and to be on the stage of Carnegie Hall, it is a historical theatre, that was one of my biggest dreams that came true. It was also my father’s dream. I love travelling, singing and be surrounded with people that I respect and admire. I want to keep on doing that and representing Greece and connecting cultures.” Zannis said regarding her dreams.

Zannis also performed at many international venues and her awards include the best performance award at World Trade Fair, Seoul in 2008, and the Olympic committee award for contributions to the Olympic Games in 2014.

As for her advice to young singers, Zannis believes that if you are honest with yourself and find what you really love, you have to keep going, whether you get paid or not. If you really love what you do, you will have a career. Persistence and being present are the main ingredients for success.

“We are living in a new world, technology is the star now. I love technology; I like how we can connect via the internet. It is fantastic. When someone is expressing something real, he will achieve success.”

“For my music, I like to create an environment of passion and it is very important to have good lyrics. In Greece, we have great poems, which is our popular music. I like Barbara Streisand and Billie Holiday. I am classically trained; in my concerts, I choose songs from different countries and make a story. I perform Greek, Italian, American, Spanish, and Portuguese songs,” she emphasised.

“We are planning to invite the Egyptian orchestra to perform in Greece; that is a dream, I hope that will happen,” she said.

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