Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
This is Ratiba El Hefni, soprano of the Cairo Opera and later chair of its board. During the Suez Crisis, she performed a propaganda stunt.
Ratiba died last week, aged 82.
In fact she was more. For decades she was the grand lady of the Cairo Opera House, a soprano herself in the past, and for years artistic director, predecessor of Ines Abdeldaim (who recently has been reinstated after a brief absence when she was fired by the Morsi government).
Ratiba Al Hefni moreover is the daughter of Ahmed Al Hefni, who in his early years was a sponsor of Umm Kulthumm, the great diva of Arabic singing, even before she broke through. He organised the 1932 first international conference on Arabic music, where Bartok and Hindemith were present.
After the demise of Umm Kulthumm, who sang until 1973 and died in 1975, Ratiba kept the musicians of Umm Kulthumm’s orchestra going, even in hard times. She was a very courageous and very influential personality.
Her recordings are good too, including Cosi fan Tutte in Egyptian colloquial Arabic. http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/81775.aspx
Renowned Egyptian opera singer Ratiba El-Hefny passes away – Music – Arts & Culture – Ahram Online
The Cosi was actually in Classical Arabic, not colloquial…. but, yes, her performance in that was beautiful… However, She did perform the first translated operetta, The Merry Widdow, in Colloquial…
Thanks Ashraf for the comment…
I remember hearing her in Die Entfuehrung aus dem Serail in the late 70s
She sang Pamina?
Sorry confused I know they did Zauberflöte too.
So she sang Constanze?
I saw her as Constanze. She has probably sang Pamina too.
I would have killed to see her Constanze…. I got to sing on her last Traviata and Aida. It was quite something, even at that ripe age. Her technique was rock solid.
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
Follow him on FB: Facebook and on Twitter @NLebrecht
More Lebrecht @ normanlebrecht.com
Enter your email address:
April 12, 2014 5 Comments
April 11, 2014 5 Comments
April 11, 2014 23 Comments
April 11, 2014 11 Comments
April 11, 2014 1 Comment
April 11, 2014 Leave a Comment
an ArtsJournal blog