Egyptian soprano Fatma Said has announced that her long awaited debut album El Nour will be available in October, and has released a track from it, Adieux de l'hôtesse arabe (“Farewell of the Arabian Hostess”) by Georges Bizet.
"My debut album El Nour, 'the light' in Arabic, has been years in the making. With it, I wanted to explore how music that has been interpreted many times can be presented in different ways, in a different light. It connects three cultures and languages – Arabic, French, and Spanish – and shows how much, despite cultural, geographical, and historical differences, they have in common musically," Said wrote on her Facebook page.
The 17-track album includes compositions by Maurice Ravel, Manuel de Falla, José Serrano Simeón, Fernando Obradors, and Gamal Abdel-Rahim, among others.
Said shared her performance of Adieux de l'hôtesse arabe in a short video in which she delves deeper into the composition, which is based on a poem by Victor Hugo.
"It is amazing how the composer managed to take Hugo's brilliant and complex poetry and turn it into a musical masterpiece, creating such an authentic Oriental atmosphere [and] using very Mediterranean, Middle Eastern scales, to depict this world that he didn't come from," she said.
The original song is a duet for voice and piano. Said added a new component to the composition, "a ney [Oriental flute] almost playing the voice of the woman's European lover. I can leave that up to your imagination," she says.
The ney opens the song with a beautiful, soothing line and gently entwines itself with the piano throughout the five-minutes-track, eventually giving it a soft exit to the emotions in the final bars. The creative dialogue between the two instruments is embellished by Said's voice purity and unique freshness.
The composition is performed by Said with Malcolm Martineau on piano and Burcu Karadağ on the ney, both of whom are also featured on other tracks on the album.
Other musicians featured in the album include Rafael Aguirre, Tim Allhoff, Itamar Doari, Henning Sieverts, Tamer Pinarbasi and Vision String Quartet.
The newly released track can be found on Amazon, Anghami, Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.
The album will be released on Warner Classics, the label Said signed a contract with last year.
Fatma Said is one of Egypt's brightest stars of classical music with a portfolio which includes significant accomplishments.
Said's singing career took a serious turn when, at the age of 14, she enrolled at the vocal studio of Neveen Allouba.
After graduating high school she went to Germany to continue her music studies and enrolled at the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin, where she studied under Renate Faltin. She later won the 8th Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in Dublin.
In 2011, Said won the second award at the 16th International Schuman Lied Contest, as well as the Grand Award at the Giulio Peroti International Opera Contest. In 2012, she won both first prize and the audience prize at the 7th Leyla Gencer Voice Competition that took place in Istanbul, Turkey.
Said then decided to apply for a scholarship at the prestigious La Scala Academy in Milan. After four rounds of screenings, Said found herself in a group of 11 young talents chosen by the Academy from thousands of applicants.
She was the first Egyptian singer to be accepted to this world-renowned institution, and went on to perform there in Mozart's Magic Flute.
Said was also one of six musicians selected by BBC Radio 3 to take part in its New Generation Artist Scheme from 2016 to 2018.
“Based in Paris, Warner Classics and its sister label Erato together comprise one of the world’s leading global classical music recording companies. In 2013, with WMG’s acquisition of Parlophone Label Group, the renowned EMI Classics roster and catalog became part of Warner Classics. The label exclusively records such acclaimed artists as Emmanuel Pahud, Piotr Anderszewski, Sir Antonio Pappano, and distinguished organisations like the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and l’Arpeggiata.”
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