The young Egyptian soprano Fatma Said has won this year’s Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in Dublin.
The 24-year-old Said was honoured on Thursday 28 January during a special gala at Dublin’s National Concert Hall where the judges listened to six finalists picked out of a pool of singers from 180 countries. She performed three arias with the Wexford Festival Opera Orchestra conducted by Patrik Ringborg, and won the audience prize, the prize for best performance, and the first jury prize. She came ahead of US baritone William Davenport, Guatemalan soprano Adriana Gonzales, and UK soprano Anna Anadarajih.
Said is a most promising Egyptian singer. She gained increasing fame since she began performing years ago; she has already performed internationally and sung in a concert conducted by the renowned Juan Diego Flórez. In 2011, she won the second award at 16th International Schuman Lied Contest and the Grand Award at the Giulio Peroti International Opera Contest. In 2012, she won the first prize by the competition jury and the audience prize at the 7th Leyla Gencer Voice Competition in Istanbul, Turkey.
Said is one of 10 young people from around the world who received scholarships to study song at the prestigious La Scala Academy in Milan. She described it as a “huge honour” to be accepted there. “I did the auditions after my studies in Germany,” she explained. “It’s a great experience to be in Italy as an opera singer. Being in Milan and especially at La Scala is definitely the best place I can be at this point in time.”
Said began her singing career in Egypt, under the renowned Egyptian soprano Neveen Allouba. She spent with Allouba five years, during which time she won the 1st and 2nd prizes at the Jugend musiziert competition. She then went to Germany where she enrolled at the Eisler Hanns’ music school in Berlin (under Professor Renate Faltin).
Speaking on stage in Dublin after her win, she said: “I can’t remember a time when I fell in love with singing. I always loved singing and I always loved music, then came to love opera at a later stage in my life. I must say that being at a German school in Cairo helped me a lot to develop a taste for classical music.”
The Dublin competition is named for Veronica Dunne, who is considered Ireland’s Grande Dame of singing. Born in Dublin, Dunne had a thriving operatic career and then moved on to training young voices and launching a singing competition which is held every three years for talents from across the world. To date, eight editions of the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, spanning over 21 years, have taken place.
31 January 2016