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'Tis the season to be jolly
Published in Daily News Egypt on 20 - 12 - 2007

In a packed house at the Opera House last Sunday, acclaimed Egyptian mezzo-soprano Gala El Hadidi gave a show-stopping performance at the Opera's Main Hall, her third and final Christmas concert of the year.
For seven years, the Opera House has been holding Christmas concerts for the public and El Hadidi has been participating for the past three years.
She melodiously relayed tunes from Broadway musicals for the first half of the show. From "The West Side Story to "The Sound of Music and "A Chorus Line, El Hadidi stunned the audience with her operatic prowess.
"The point of doing a Christmas concert on my own and fusing it with hits from musicals was because I was terrified that people would be bored by hearing only Christmas carols from beginning to end. Opera is something that I hold close to my heart, so, I combined the two.
The last song of the first act was "I Could Have Danced from "My Fair Lady. El Hadidi said that she wanted to end the act on a high note, and she knew that this song was very popular in Egypt - the crowd seemed to agree as thunderous applause followed.
The cozy feeling of "chestnuts roasting on an open fire line from the classic "The Christmas Song greeted the crowd at the start of the second act. Afterwards, many in the audience sang along or snapped their fingers to the beat of J. Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad.
Though most of the songs of the night were sung in English, El Hadidi traversed many language barriers, singing "Silent Night in English and French, and "O Christmas Tree in German.
"I also included 'Angels We Have Heard on High' because many Egyptians know it and have requested it, said Gala, "Because the audience loves to clap, I decided to end the show with 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town.'
The halls of the Opera House have been filled with the sound of this angelic voice for quite some time. Gala's voice has graced the halls of the Opera House since she started working there professionally in 2000. A year later, she entered the Opera Company.
At the age of 15, El Hadidi and her family discovered that she had a talented, operatic voice. Enrolling in the German School only fueled her passion. "Germans promote classical music, especially, and I was encouraged to sing solo.
One week before entering the American University in Cairo as an undergraduate, El Hadidi received a call from the Opera House saying she passed her audition and that they wanted her to sign a contract with them. She also received her bachelor's degree in philosophy, and a master's degree in English and comparative literature earlier this year.
Many countries have hosted this powerful mezzo-soprano. From 2004 until 2006, El Hadidi performed in international festivals in Morocco, Germany, Finland and Italy, to name a few.
One musician that influenced her style most is Egypt's prominent pianist Ramzi Yassa. For the fifth anniversary of the International Music Center at Cairo Manasterly Palace, where Yassa is artistic director, El Hadidi was asked to sing at the concert.
"Ever since I performed at that concert, I have felt that I have been on a constant incline. It was a privilege working with him, El Hadidi said. "I really got to know him and I respect what he is doing.
She was also greatly inspired by the soprano Nivine Allouba. "Her charisma and her spirit on stage are really amazing, she said.
"My parents are my real inspiration, she continued. "All of these decorations were done at home by my parents. El Hadidi pointed to the stage, where, an hour before the show, her parents adorned two Christmas trees and showered the area with tinsel, presents, stockings, wreaths, lights and poinsettias.
Regarding her singing style, El Hadidi said, "I don't want to devalue myself by just singing pop and modern. I want to attract as many people as I can and make it known that there can be young opera singers that can make it entertaining as well. "
Besides holding private shows for friends and family, El Hadidi will be singing at AUC at the end of January.
For more information, contact Gala El Hadidi at [email protected]


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