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Egyptian Mezzo-Soprano Farrah El Dibany on Nurturing an Artist’s Spirit

Farrah El Dibany. Photo: Supplied

Just off Place Vendôme in Paris, Farrah El Dibany is sitting in a café. Her face is almost bare of makeup and delicate pendants adorn her layered necklaces, adding to her youthful aura. Just don’t mistake her for an ingénue. Hailing from Alexandria, El Dibany is an award-winning mezzo-soprano quietly planning her next move. She is the first Arab opera singer to enter the Paris Opera Academy (2016), receiving the prestigious Prix lyrique de l’Arop award in 2019. With performances lined up for 2020, including a solo concert at the Dubai Opera, the world was her oyster, until a global pandemic took the rug out from under her feet. “Opera is difficult at the moment; the Paris Opera is closed until January, at least,” she states. No matter, El Dibany is occupying herself otherwise – recording songs and partaking in online concerts. “It’s not normal for us opera singers to do this virtual thing, we sing live,” she smiles. “I want to use my art – no matter what it is – to connect with people,” she says. “I want people to love opera and to look for or listen to it from a different perspective.”

Her warm and velvety timbre resembles that of Dalida’s, and when El Dibany sings her hits, she rolls her r’s with familiar drama. It’s no surprise that her range also dips into pop laced with nostalgia. In 2005, she entered the Arts Center of the Library of Alexandria; five years later, she moved to Berlin to attend the Hanns-Eisler Academy of Music. In 2015, she appeared in the title role of Carmen at the Neuköllner Oper; the role has remained close to her ever since. “We are bound to certain roles due to our vocal range. My role is Carmen, and I still want to discover and rediscover it,” she says. El Dibany admits to enjoying spending time by herself and exploring her adopted city of Paris. “I never intended to move here, but when I came to Paris, I understood that it was the place where all my artistic passions could be combined and explored.”

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