Last night the audience at the Emirates Place auditorium was treated to a spectacular performance by the Belgium operatic master, Jose Van Dam. Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, the concert was presented by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) in association with the Embassy of Belgium in Abu Dhabi. It was held to honour the Belgium Royal visit to Abu Dhabi by Their Royal Highnesses Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium, and to celebrate the cultural dialogue between the two nations. The concert was attended by the event patron H.H. Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, HRH Princess Mathilde of Belgium, HE. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, H.E. Anick Van Claster, Belgium Ambassador to the UAE, other Ambassadors and VIP invited guests.
The gifted bass-baritone was supported throughout the performance by accomplished Romanian pianist, Dana Protopopescu, and was accompanied on stage at various times by Dutch soprano, Lies Vandewege, and French mezzo-soprano, Anne-Fleur Inizan, two thrilling young singers currently studying under his tutelage at the Queen Elisabeth College of Music, where he is one of the four masters in residence. The musical introduction also included Belgian virtuoso violinist and winner of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition, Lorenzo Gatto. This was Jose’s Abu Dhabi debut performance in a concert that featured almost exclusively, the compositions of W.A Mozart.
The performance started with Dana Protopopescu on piano and Lorenzo Gatto on violin for three introductory pieces from Sonate nr 3 for violin and piano in C minor, Op.45 by Eduard Grieg. Jose then took to the stage supported by Ms Protopopescu, to perform an aria from the renowned opera Don Giovanni (Leporello) “Madamina, il catalogo e questo”, in D major, K.27 by W.A Mozart, where the funny yet cruel Leporello does his best to dash all chances of romance between Giovanni and his love interest.
The next aria from Cosi fan tutte (Fiordiligi, Dorabella) “Ah, guarda sorella”, KWV, 588 by W.A Mozart was performed by Lies Vandewege and Anne-Fleur Inizan, accompanied by Dana Protopupescu at the piano telling the tale of two young cavaliers who, shaken by a cynical old bachelor, put the fidelity of their loved ones to the test. Jose returned to the stage to perform another aria from Don Giovanni, accompanied by Ms Inizan as Zerlina to deliver “Là ci darem la mano” by W.A Mozart, depicting the cunning of the shady nobleman and charmer in getting his intended conquest to cancel her wedding plans.
Two soloist acts from the ever popular The Marriage of Figaro by W.A Mozart followed with Lies Vanewege singing (Contessa) Porgi amore, and then Anne-Fleur Inizan singing (Cherebin) Voi che sapete. Jose then returned with Ms Vandewege and enchanted the crowd with one of the most extremely popular operas from W.A Mozart, Die Zauberflote (Pamina – Papageno) “Bei Mannern, welche Liebe Fuhlen”, K.620. The final aria of “Hai gia vinta la causa”, also from the romantic comedy The Marriage of Figaro by W.A Mozart, was delivered by the operatic great Jose Van Dam in a stunning solo performance.
The spectacular evening of Mozart favourites concluded with a unanimous standing ovation in recognition of the passion and excellence delivered throughout the evening. Jose returned to the stage with his protégés Vandewege and Inizan to astound the audience with a grand finale performance of Cosi fan Tutte (Dorabella/Don Alfonso/Fiordiligi) “Soave sia il vento” by W.A Mozart.
HE. Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), said:
“We are thrilled to experience the genius of Jose Van Dam here in Abu Dhabi, and to see firsthand the outstanding efforts achieved from a successful collaboration between education and music, as is evident between Jose and the students of the Queen Elisabeth College of Music.
“We are thankful to HH. Sheikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nayhan for her patronage of the event, aiming to strengthen cultural relations and dialogue that exist between our two nations.”
Cultural education is at the very heart of the Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation which, for the past 13 years, has been working with schools, embassies and communities throughout the UAE to enhance cultural communication and understanding between nations, by supporting events that extend cultural bridges from the capital Abu Dhabi to the rest of the world.
Belgium bass-baritone José Van Dam studied in the Conservatoire before he was engaged by the Opéra de Paris where he made his début in "Les Troyens". Since then he has been invited to sing on the greatest international stages and at the great lyrical festivals. He has devoted himself to the repertoire of the XXth century and in particularly to French music. José is Doctor honoris causa of Université de Montréal; Berlin awarded him the honorific title "Kammersänger"; the French government made him "Commandeur des Arts et Lettres" and he was recently knighted by King Albert II of Belgium.
Romanian pianist Dana Protopopescu began her musical studies in Bucharest at a very young age, finishing at the Brussels Conservatory and the Hochschule fur Musik in Hannover. She performed her first concerto with orchestra at the age of 14 and has since played under the baton of leading conductors, taken part in many festivals and has been guest of the “Great Soloists” series. Dana holds the title of official pianist in the Queen Elisabeth International Competition, and has been a member of the Ensemble Contrasts for more than twenty years.
Born in Brussels in December 1986, Lorenzo Gatto started studying the violin at the age of five, and at twelve entered the Royal Conservatoire of Music of Brussels where, at 17, he gained a higher diploma with "grande distinction." He is a recipient of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition and is currently studying at the Conservatoire of Vienna under the tutelage of Boris Kuschnir. Lorenzo Gatto plays a Vuillaume violin on loan from the "Carlo Van Neste" Foundation.
Soprano Lies Vandewege started her musical career at the Lokeren Academy for Music and Speech, studying recitation, theatre, piano and voice. She graduated magna cum laude in June 2007 from the Royal Flemish Conservatoire, and has sung as a soloist with a variety of conductors. In 2007, she joined the Opera Studio at the Queen Elisabeth College of Music under the direction of José van Dam.
French Mezzo Anne-Fleur Inizan started to study music at the age of five in Brittany, by learning the cello at the National Music School of Lannion, in addition to the piano. In 1998, she moved to Paris to concentrate on deepening her musical work and to discover the lyrical art. In 2000, in parallel with her training at the Faculty of Musicology of the Sorbonne, she entered the Paris Conservatoire for the brand new programme of the Paris Youth Choir where she discovered a passion for the stage. In September 2007, Anne-Fleur joined the opera studio of the Queen Elisabeth College of Music, also under the direction of José van Dam.
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