Arabic opera singer Mira Akiki from Lebanon

The throne of the Arabic opera singer

Becoming an Arabic opera singer is her way to share her passion and beliefs with people who speak Arabic but are unfamiliar with opera, as well as to share the language with an audience who loves opera, but does not speak Arabic at all.

I’m very pleased to share with you my interview with the Lebanese soprano!

Mira Akiki, a Lebanese coloratura Soprano, discovered her passion for music when she was 5, every time she heard her father playing the piano. 

After joining the NDU choir at the age of 11, her piano teacher discovered her vocal power.

She joined the Lebanese higher musical conservatory six years later and graduated with honors.

She had the privilege to work with renowned international singers and vocal coaches and has collaborated with international directors. 

Mira played many roles in different operas, as she performed in different festivals and events including Beirut chants festival, Al Bustan festival, the Lebanese National Museum, Expo Milan, The opera house of Muscat, Al Hussein Cultural Center in Jordan.

Lebanese soprano Mira Akiki
Mira Akiki – Lebanese Soprano

1- Who is your main inspiration?

When you said inspiration, the first person who came to my mind was my teacher, my mentor Maestro Toufic Maatouk, because he has shown me the true meaning of devotion, ambition, and endless giving. 

He is the type of person who dreams big, puts his goal right in front of his eyes, and then sets out to achieve it. Not to mention that he never misses an opportunity to share all of his expertise with you and supports every talent.

2- Why did you choose to become an Arabic opera singer?

I chose to be an Opera singer in the first place because it was there where I discovered my true passion. There’s acting and singing at the same time. 

3- In your opinion, what are the three strengths that make a good musician?

Talent, passion, and devotion are the pillars of a successful musician.

Arts without talent are like Swarovski compared to diamonds. They’re both beautiful, but you’re still going to sense something missing.

The key to sculpturing your talent is to find time to practice, and master your technique; that comes with devotion.

Passion is the trigger to pursue and fulfill your dreams and to reach every heart.

actress and singer in an opera role telling a story to girls who follow in their books
L’Elisir d’amore Opera

4- Can you share your favorite live performance? And how do you cope with stage fright? 

Well, every concert, each live performance has its own unique and special memory. If I have to choose, I’d say “Cosi fan tutte” (an Italian opera by W. A. Mozart).

I played the role of Despina, which was a super funny and intelligent woman representing three characters in one: a maid disguised as a doctor, then as a notary.

As for stage fright, there will always be a kind of stress and anxiety before every show. You will learn how to cope with time, practice, and experience on stage.

Breathing exercises are a must! 

I advise you to meditate and pray. It helps to let go of negative thoughts, remove distractions and really connect to your inner self.

5- Your new single Al Aarsh: what is the story behind the lyrics and how was the recording process?

Actually, the lyrics were written by my Father Dr. Ishac Akiki. 

Back in 2017, he wrote the poem “Al Aarsh” (the throne), about how Jesus Christ transformed the humble Cross into the world’s throne.

It was such a success that he suggested making it a song. We even thought of translating it to Italian!

This year, this dream came true and the song was released with the help of ‘Al Finiq hourouf wa alwan’ production, and with the collaboration of a very talented composer, our friend, Dr. Youssef Akiki.

The recording was very smooth yet challenging. It was the first time I sang after the birth of my second child.Also, singing opera in Arabic is demanding, in terms of phonetics.

6- What skills did you learn as a voice teacher that helped you in your singing career?

You can learn a lot while being a singer and a voice teacher at the same time.

I always learn from my students’ mistakes. With every voice, I discover a different way to deal with bad habits, be more creative, and of course, they taught me to be patient.

opera in Lebanon
Despina role in Cosi Fan Tutte

7- Where do you see the future of opera in Arabic?

The Opera has generally started to have a wider audience in Lebanon and the Middle East over the last couple of years.

There are many projects of opera in Arabic like “Salam li Beirut”, “Al Fidaa”, “Le nozze di figaro” in Arabic, “Antar wa Abla”.

I think Arabic opera is alive, particularly in the religious field. In Lebanon, we have the Antonine University Choir which is one of the most important choirs in the Middle East. They inherited the unlimited masterpieces of classical hymns written by the Late Grand Master Fr. Waked.

The NDU Choir is presenting many classical pieces for Lebanese composers such as Iyad Kanaan and Toufic Succar.

We have the AUB Choir, Faihaa Choir, Beirut Vocal Point who are performing many traditional Arabic songs with new classical operatic arrangements.

About the author

Rita Hokayem

I am a soprano opera singer, voice teacher with over 13 years of experience, and digital marketer.
I teach online singing lessons for beginners and professional singers in pop, rock, R&B, country, oriental Arabic music, and pop opera.
My blog contains a series of interviews and articles about interesting topics related to the life of a musician and singer.
I am currently based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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