Egyptian soprano Fatma Said is something of a wunderkind. She took her first singing lesson at 14 and today, at just 31 years old, she has a string of awards and prizes to her name. She has won several major international singing competitions and has appeared on some of the world’s most iconic opera stages, taking on the roles of the artform’s most well-known heroines.
In 2019 she performed at the BBC Proms. She was the first Egyptian soprano to grace Milan’s Scala and the first non-European to win Germany’s prestigious Best Young Artist award in 2021.
She released her first studio album in 2020: the critically acclaimed El Nour, which won the Gramophone Classical Music Award for Best Song Album and BBC Music magazine’s Vocal Award. Kaleidoscope, set to be released on 2 September, is the follow up.
It is an eclectic mix of songs, comprising music from film soundtracks, musicals, dance, opera and operetta, chanson, jazz, pop and more. Hence the title – the album is a “musical kaleidoscope,” according to Said.
For me, the selection felt a little too eclectic. There’s no common thread and the tracks jump from style to style with nothing to connect them. The album felt somewhat disjointed rather than a joined-up listening experience.
However, it does provide a brilliant showcase for Said’s phenomenal voice, and the individual tracks are excellent. Her mastery of language is exceptional. She sings in six different languages – French, German, English, Spanish, Italian and Arabic. Her diction is incredibly precise.
Said had a number of collaborators on the album, but her voice is definitely the star. It’s beautiful and her singing is crystal clear. There is a very light, bright tone to her soprano that is simply lovely to listen to.
Barcarolle from Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann, 1881), on which Said duets with French mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa, is a particular highlight. Music is provided by Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, conducted by Sascha Goetzel.
The two singers’ voices blend wonderfully, while the music is conducted with an exceptionally light touch. It’s a beautiful rendition.
The album closes with a version of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, a track made famous by Whitney Houston. Said’s interpretation of the track is completely different from Houston’s slice of pop, and I loved it.
Kaleidoscope will be released on Warner Classics on 2 September. It will be available as a CD costing £14.99, 12-inch vinyl for £25.99 and digitally, starting at £8.69 to download or free as part of a streaming service.
• Kaleidoscope by Fatma Said (Warner Classics)
• Price: £14.99 (CD), £25.99 (LP), from £8.69 (MP3)
• Format: CD, LP, MP3
• Total run time: 68 minutes
• Tracks: 20
• Release date: 2 September 2022
• More information and how to purchase: from Warner Classics
Fatma Said’s Kaleidoscope is an eclectic mix of tracks which expertly shows off the Egyptian soprano’s stunning voice.