Egyptian talent is on a rise in all kinds of realms and it just can’t go unnoticed. Amongst the many successes are women that are following their passion restlessly, slowly but surely and strongly climbing the stairs of success. We’ve seen the achievements of Egyptian females in sports, in fashion and in the sciences. Today we will see one significant growing success story of a young Egyptian female opera singer.
25 year-old Fatma Said has been singing for as long as she can remember. At the age of 13 she joined her first classical singing competition for her age group. She would then go on to become the first Egyptian soprano to ever sing at La Scala – an opera house in Milan – and the first Egyptian opera singer to ever receive an award from the state.
“I always like to make it clear to myself that I enter singing competitions every now and then in order to challenge myself and never to compete with others. It’s not a tennis match.”
“I decided to pursue singing as a career after studying classical music and opera in Germany and realizing and understanding how inspiring and life-changing this art-form can be,” Fatma says. Upon traveling at the age of 18 to study music, her parents worried given their lack of knowledge in relation to this specific industry. Nevertheless, they supported her fully, “I had to give a lot of explanations to them and make them feel like they are part of my world,” Fatma says, adding that “this was the only way they were able to understand what I’m doing and they never regretted giving the opportunity to study music.”
In the past 12 years, Fatma has joined 10 competitions, some of which she won prizes in and some of which she didn’t. To her, competitions are relative and can have exceptionally talented singers who don’t win, as it goes way beyond who is better than who into the realms of the judges’ tastes. “I always like to make it clear to myself that I enter singing competitions every now and then in order to challenge myself and never to compete with others. It’s not a tennis match.” She says confidently.
Additionally, she became the first Egyptian Opera singer to be awarded by the State.
Earlier this year Fatma joined the prestigious Veronica Dunne Competition. She rose with strength, winning the First Prize Award, the Audience Award, and the Mozart Award, marking her as an extremely worthy international opera competitor and a face to mark for the future of classical music. Additionally, she became the first Egyptian Opera singer to be awarded by the State. She won the award earlier this year in October, in Sharm El Sheikh at the Youth Convention. With that being said, she considers her greatest milestone winning the Leyla Gencer Opera competition in 2012. It was her first time entering a real and extremely serious and difficult international opera competition and she was the youngest there as well. She didn’t expect to win, but the moment she did many things began changing her life, pushing forth her career.
Although Fatma has won many prizes, and at such a young age set herself as a force to be reckoned with in classical music – on the local and international levels alike – she faced societal problems. “There are many people in Egypt who underestimate arts and culture and don’t understand the field of Music, especially Opera. This field is as important as any other field and is regarded as one of the highest art-forms there is,” she says. She is constantly being judged for what she is doing, but choses to focus on believing in herself and what she is doing instead, acknowledging that people will always judge, positively or negatively no matter what. “This is life,” she explains.
Her aspiration is not to get Egyptian kids to dream of becoming opera singers, but to get them to academically learn about their own music history and culture…
Believing she is one of few lucky Egyptians to have been able to pursue and learn about opera, Fatma hopes that one day children will become way more aware of what classical music is. In order to do that she believes that a proper music curriculum in Egyptian public schools must be implemented. Her aspiration is not to get Egyptian kids to dream of becoming opera singers, but to get them to academically learn about their own music history and culture which includes iconic figures such as Om Kolthoum, Abdel Wahab and Abdel Halim Hafiz amongst many others. “These artists are a huge part of our Egyptian history and heritage and there has to be a part of the educational system’s curriculum dedicated to them,” she explains.
As an end note, Fatma advices young talents to do what they aspire and what makes them better people. “Do it with heart, and there will be a zero-possibility of not succeeding, as there will be so little competition.”