Singer Farah Al-Dibani talks about a performance in President Macron’s victory march

Dubai: On a recent business trip to Geneva, Egyptian opera singer Farah Al-Dibani received an unexpected phone call. On April 23, on the eve of Election Day in France, President Emmanuel Macron ran in new elections against right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen. Macron’s team contacted Aldebani to invite her to perform “La Marseillaise” – the French national anthem – in Paris after a possible victory speech at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, an event that will be watched by millions. No pressure.

“I was skeptical at first,” al-Dibani from the French capital, where she lives, told Arab News. I could not understand the extent of this accident. ” “I wandered around the room like a maniac. She was very tense. I had to get things sorted quickly – including the dress. ” This dress – a red strapless dress by Lebanese designer Jimmy Maalouf – has attracted as much media attention as Mazhar Al-Dibani.

“I was so nervous I could not sleep,” she continues. “I got up early, got on the train to Paris and went straight to rehearsals. It was surreal. I do not know how it all happened. “

After the presentation, Macron accepted Al-Dibani’s hand in respect and appreciation. (enough)

She was well aware of the challenges of tackling one of the most famous tunes ever written.

“It was very dangerous,” recalls the mezzo-soprano. “I kept repeating it. I was afraid to hook it up or forget a word because everyone in the world was watching, not just France. I’m not French, so I can not make a mistake. A Frenchman can make a mistake – it is the country and its national anthem. “

Despite the short preparation and pressure, the show was a triumph. Devani performed a two-minute opera on the national anthem, while crowds of Macron fans began to sing along with her. After the presentation, Macron accepted Al-Dibani’s hand in respect and appreciation.


Al-Dibani performed a two-minute opera on the national anthem. (enough)

“He was very kind and welcoming,” she says. “I met him before, so he knew me as a singer. When I got up on stage, I saluted him and he repeated (the gesture). “

Television broadcast was an important and symbolic cultural moment. Divani became the first foreign artist to play the national anthem after the victory of the presidency in France. This was probably not a coincidence, given Macron’s social diversity ideology. According to Al-Dibani, American opera legend Jesse Norman was the last time a non-French artist performed a song in 1989, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.

“This is definitely the highlight of my career,” said Al-Dabni. “It’s something unique and I will never forget it.”

This is a profession with many key points to choose from. She became the first Arab artist to reside at the prestigious Opera Nationale de Paris, founded in 1669 by King Louis XIV, for which she received a three-year contract. She was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters of France (awarded to those who made a significant contribution to the “enrichment” of French culture). Her talents have taken her to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, the Beirut Song Festival, the Arab World Institute, Palais Garnier and the Giacometti Foundation, among others. Nicknamed the “Egyptian Carmen”, she sings the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Bizet, Tchaikovsky and Rossini, as well as honors Arabic icons, including Dalida, Asmahan and Fairouz.

Divani was born in 1989 in Alexandria. She has studied at the city’s famous conservatory for piano lessons since the age of seven and sang in her school choir.

“I grew up in a very musical and artistic atmosphere, even though none of my family were professional musicians,” she says. “My parents definitely realized that I have a voice. They continued to support me. ”

Al-Dibani’s mother worked in banks, and her father was an architect. At one point, Devani seemed to be following in his footsteps. I traveled to Berlin and studied architecture and opera at two different universities.

“Learning two things at once was very difficult,” she says. “It was a marathon and everyone around me – except my father – told me I would never be able to do it.”

It was her grandfather who first introduced Al Dibani to opera greats: Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Maria Callas and Teresa Berganza.

She explained: “What I like about opera is the theater behind it.” “It’s a mixture of acting and singing. I like (play) a role. When I sing a lion, I’m in the role, another moment.

“People still think opera is like shouting,” she continues. “It is very dramatic, but we do not shout; We have a technique. With this technique we can (beat) all these different characters or records. People do not understand that there is a lot of artwork behind this poetry. ”

Al Devani moved to France in 2016 and she wants to take her career to new heights – something she said is almost impossible in her country.

“The thing is, I can not do a real job at the opera in Egypt. “Yes, I have performed in opera houses in Cairo and Alexandria, but at some point when you are really specialized in this field, you find that you need more opportunities,” she explained. “After all, opera is not part of Eastern or Arab culture, it is very Western. There are more opportunities in Europe. ”

Perhaps one of the reasons why opera is loved in the world is because it excites people, whether you understand the words or not. “Opera is not about understanding the text, it is about the sound,” says Al-Dubni.

And protecting that sound is essential. Al-Dibani avoids spicy foods, drinks aniseed tea and tries to avoid talking on the days when she appears. “Speech is our enemy,” she says. “It immediately makes the voice tired.”

Despite her last moments of world fame, Al Diwani was not happy with her glory. It is eager to continue its upward momentum.

“The ultimate dream for me is to be loved by people,” she says. “Let there be more and more people who want to hear my voice all over the world and want to hear me sing. That’s what it means to be an artist. ”

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