First Saudi opera singer hopes to encourage home-grown creativity

Updated 04 July 2019
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First Saudi opera singer hopes to encourage home-grown creativity

JEDDAH: Sawsan Al-Bahiti is no stranger to the stage and has been charming audiences with her powerful opera performances for over a decade.

Billed as Saudi Arabia’s first professional opera singer, Al-Bahiti is also a certified voice coach at the New York Vocal Coaching Center.

The opera singer graduated from the American University of Sharjah with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, before she fell in love with opera after taking a course in choir singing.

“I did not realize how big it would be for my future, but the passion took me and I fell in love with it,” Al-Bahiti told Arab News.

Al-Bahiti performs in five languages — English, French, German, Italian and Arabic — and revealed that “singing in Arabic seems to be easier, but it’s not. It’s my mother tongue, but because I want to apply it to (opera) it is a challenge.”

Sawsan Al-Bahiti from AN on Vimeo.

But the most difficult part of operatic singing, according to Al-Bahiti, is not related to the language of the song at hand, but rather the vocal strength it requires.

The performer showcased that strength in Riyadh on Friday, when she made her national singing debut by accompanying the Teatro alla Scala Academy’s symphony orchestra at the King Fahad Cultural Center.

The show opened with a surprise performance of the Saudi national anthem by Al-Bahiti, who received a standing ovation.

“When I performed… I was beyond proud of myself and my country. It was my first time to perform opera in Arabic in public,” she told Arab News.

But receiving public support for her craft didn’t happen overnight.

“Of course, there were the obstacles of getting the public’s acceptance as a Saudi woman and… on the other hand as an opera singer because it’s a brand new art on the scene. And of course, the cultural reservations when it comes to family and getting into the field of music has always been a taboo. But now… the family has given me a lot of support.”

She hopes that her performances will encourage other Saudi talents to come forward and share their creativity in the public sphere.

The pioneering talent shared her plans to open an institute for vocal coaching in the Kingdom, which will also offer instrumental lessons and house a theater to “create a platform for up-and-coming talents to showcase (their craft).’’


Bahraini TV star Sabrin Burshaid dies after battling cancer

Sabrin Burshaid died on Monday morning at the age of 34. (Instagram)
Updated 22 July 2019
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Bahraini TV star Sabrin Burshaid dies after battling cancer

DUBAI: Bahraini TV presenter and actor Sabrin Burshaid died on Monday morning, at the age of 34.

The star had been battling cancer after being diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year. According to media reports, Burshaid was found to have three brain tumors and was hospitalized abroad.

The news of her death was confirmed by her father, Ahmed Burshid.

Burshaid began her career in 2009, when she started as a  TV presenter for the program “Summer of Bahrain.”

She got her first major acting job in 2012 in the play “Zain’s Flashlight” and went on to star in a number of Ramadan series, the latest clutch of which were  aired this year — “Lovers After Divorce” directed by Khalid Jamal, “Agenda” by Haya Abdel Salam and “ I have a script” by Munir Zoubi.