Soraya Mafi

Harewood Artist at the English National Opera

Credit: Christina Haldane


Soraya Mafi is a graduate of the Royal College of Music. She is the winner of the 2016 Susan Chilcott Award – an award from the Susan Chilcott Scholarship to support a ‘major young artist with the potential to make an international impact’.

Highlights in her 2020/21 season include Musetta La bohème for English National Opera at Alexandra Palace, Johanna Sweeney Todd in her debut for the Opernhaus Zurich and Sophie Der Rosenkavalier for both the Welsh National Opera and Garsington Opera.

A Harewood Artist at the English National Opera, her roles for the company have included Tytania A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mabel The Pirates of Penzance and Yum Yum The Mikado. Elsewhere she has sung Susanna Le nozze di Figaro for the Welsh National Opera, Gilda Rigoletto for the Seattle Opera, Nanetta Falstaff for Garsington Opera and Gretel Hänsel und Gretel for Grange Park Opera. She has also appeared at the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Opéra national du Rhin, with English Touring Opera, Opera North and the Opéra national de Lorraine.


  • More info  
    19 Sep 20 PUCCINI La bohème
    English National Opera at Alexandra Palace

    “[There] are top-notch performances, notably from Roderick Williams as a superannuated hippy Marcello and Soraya Mafi as Musetta, particularly when she sheds her blonde wig and sings with wonderful tenderness in the final scene.
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 21 September 2020

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    16 Feb 20 MOZART Le nozze di Figaro
    Welsh National Opera

    “The cast was the strongest I have seen for some time at the WNO. Soraya Mafi was an ebullient Susanna whose exquisite honeyed timbre (notably fine in the higher registers) was matched by her exceptional acting. The phrase “star quality” is scattered about too liberally, but Mafi really does deserve the label.”
    Alice Hughes, Bachtrack, 19 February 2020

    “Soraya Mafi’s crystal clear soprano enchants us all.”
    Michael Kelligan, Theatre in Wales, February 2020

    “But it’s wit that triumphs, with Soraya Mafi’s outstanding Susanna…”
    Steph Power, The Stage, 24 February 2020

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    28 Oct 19 GILBERT & SULLIVAN The Mikado
    English National Opera

    “Soraya Mafi is effortlessly optimistic as Yum-Yum, allowing the voice to soar in The Sun, Whose Rays.”
    Edward Bhesania, The Stage,  5 November 2019

    “Soraya Mafi was very appealing as the sassy – if rather fickle and somewhat vain – schoolgirl Yum-Yum who Nanki-Poo is in love with. Her Act II aria ‘The sun whose rays are all ablaze’ was exquisite…The couple’s mock-romantic duet in the first act (‘Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted’) – when Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum think about flirting even though it is against the law – was an absolute delight.”
    Jim Pritchard, Seen and Heard, 4 November 2019

    “His Juliet is Yum-Yum (Soraya Mafi, delicious)…”
    John O’Brien, London Theatre 1, 10 November 2019

    “As bride-to-be Yum-Yum, soprano Soraya Mafi is as delightful as ever…”
    Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper, 03 November 2019

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    18 Aug 19 VERDI Rigoletto
    Seattle Opera

    “It is up to the Gilda of Soraya Mafi to shoulder the weight of this production… When she is on stage, her tiny post-adolescent figure and adorably open face fix our attention utterly, and when she sings we rise with her. I have never heard a more perfectly phrased “Caro nome,” but her every note and moment are equally simple, moving and right.”
    Roger Downey, Opera Today, 19 August 2019

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    23 Jun 19 HUMPERDINCK Hänsel und Gretel
    Grange Park Opera

    “the main pleasure comes from the singers of the title roles: Soraya Mafi, beautifully silvery of voice as Gretel”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 26 June 2019

    “The children, played by Soraya Mafi and the Australian mezzo Caitlin Hulcup, sound terrific as the mischievous pair, and sing exquisitely.”
    George Smart, Town&Country, 8 July 2019

    “Caitlin Hulcup and Soraya Mafi were quite simply the most visually plausible Hansel and Gretel I have ever seen, boisterous anarchic children of the sort that always land in trouble and wangle their way out of it. Their singing was perfection – Hulcup all boyish bravado, Mafi mercurial and sparkling.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 24 June 2019

    “Soraya Mafi’s Gretel was lustrous and sweet, rising to soaring lyrical heights in the virtuosic passages of Act 3.”
    Benjamin Poore, Bachtrack, 24 June 2019

    “With her silvery, flexible soprano, Mafi steers Gretel just short of soubrette delight, and Hulcup’s lovely mezzo expresses any amount of adolescent diffidence, courage and affection. Hulcup is a head taller than Mafi, which puts the finishing touch to their credibility as brother and sister, and throughout they are immensely affecting and strongly directed.”
    Peter Reed, Classical Source, 23 June 2019

    “Soraya Mafi and Caitlin Hulcup made a delightful pairing as Gretel and Hansel, for all the picturesque charm of the characters’ depiction there was a fundamental seriousness to their performance which emphasised the music’s quality. Mafi was a poised Gretel, shaping the lovely melodies carefully and expressively, and she was matched by Hulcup’s wonderfully boyish Hansel (one of the best ‘boys’ I have seen in this opera for a long time), with the two voices blending and contrasting. They kept the action moving so that the scenes between them in the first two acts, which can sometimes drag somewhat, flew by.”
    Robert Hugill, Opera Today, 27 June 2019

    “Soraya Mafi is also a fine Gretel”
    Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, 25 June 2019

    “Musically we’re on stronger ground, with Caitlin Hulcup’s Hansel and Soraya Mafi’s Gretel both lyrically and dramatically secure.”
    George Hall, The Stage, 24 June 2019

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    16 Feb 19 GIOVANNI LEGRENZI La Divisione del Mondo
    Opéra national du Rhin

    “A familiar name came in the shape of Soraya Mafi, who has previously impressed at ENO in Pirates as Mabel (I referred  to Mafi’s ‘simply awe-inspiring Mabel’ in February 2017: review) and Magic Flute (a ‘sweet and deliciously voiced’ Papagena in February 2016: review) and she was no less impressive here as the stompy teenager Cintia (the Goddess better known as Diana/Artemis — the name ‘Cintia’ is derived from Mount Cynthus on the Greek island of Delos). Oozing the energy of the youth of her character, this felt like a real step up for Mafi’s career. Her voice, too, was in tremendous shape.”
    Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard, 20 February 2019

    “Constrained to the uniform register of the bashful lover, Soraya Mafi offers to Diane the emotion and clarity of her high register” [Translation]
    Michel Thomé, ResMusica, 22 March 2019

    “Whereas Diane delights by the luminous voice of Soraya Mafi” [Translation]
    Laurent Bury, Forum Opera, 12 February 2019 

    “Soraya Mafi offers in this role a fine and gentle voice with delicate vibrato. Her vocal line is driven with precision and fluidity.” [Translation]
    Damien Dutilleul, Olyrix, 16 April 2019

    “And the radiant Cintia by Soraya Mafi: undoubtedly the most touching character of the whole cast, between sound splendour and unadorned dramaturgy.” [Translation]
    Dennis Morrier, Diapason Magazine, 05 March 2019

    “The twelve singers play with malice this serious parody of Hellenic-Latin mythology which is reminiscent of that of Whlhalla, more radiantly. Like Soraya Mafi who plays a juvenile and seductive Diane.” [Translation]
    Bruno Serrou, La Croix, 16 February 2019

    “As Diane, Soraya Mafi manages to illuminate the plaintive song” [Translation]
    Beate Langenbruch, Bachtrack, 15 February 2019

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    28 Dec 18 The Times Arts Highlights of 2019 Face to watch: Soraya Mafi

    Surrey’s Grange Park Opera has its Theatre in the Woods, so it was surely only a matter of time before it would give us the sylvan Hansel and Gretel. A star attraction of the Humperdinck opera coming in June is the Lancashire-born soprano Soraya Mafi, who plays Gretel. A Harewood artist at ENO, she stole the show as a sparkling Cleopatra for English Touring Opera in 2017. You can also hear her in recital at the Wigmore Hall in London on June 2, partnered by the rising mezzo Catriona Morison.
    Neil Fisher, The Times

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    23 Nov 18 MOZART Concert Arias
    Academy of Ancient Music

    At the end of the first half of the programme were three arias sung by Soraya Mafi. Their disparate nature enabled Mafi to reveal great variety in the way in which she performed them, but all were characterised by total commitment and a voice that remained precise and focused even as it reached quite expansive and passionate heights. ‘Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben’ from his uncompleted Zaide of around 1779 was suitably dreamy, while ‘Aer tranquillo e dì sereni’ from Il rè pastore of 1775 had an appropriate sense of the joie de vivre. Nehmt meinen Dank, K383 of 1782 was composed for Aloysia Weber for a special benefit concert, which meant that she received the box office takings. As a result, since this aria explicitly thanks those in attendance for their support and generosity, Mafi really had the chance to communicate with her audience.
    Sam Smith, Music OMH

    Elegance was of the essence in her singing and in the excerpt taken from the unfinished Zaide her voice was balanced ideally with the orchestra; rather than stress the drama underlying the words she shaped the themes as if her voice were a further instrument. K383 was sung with grace and sympathy – a peaceful interlude. The words are banal but the way in which Mozart sets them is beautiful. Turning from German texts to Italian, the more theatrical-sounding selection from Il rè pastore suitably rounded-off the progression and it was refreshing to hear the theatrical high-lying phrases achieved with sonorous calmness, while avoiding over-dramatisation.
    Antony Hodgson, Classical Source

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    16 Jun 18 VERDI Falstaff
    Garsington Opera

    “Soraya Mafi, and ENO Harewood Alumna made the most of Nannetta’s long-held top notes in her duet with Fenton (Oliver Johnston) and soared effortlessly across the orchestra as the Fairy Queen.”
    Amanda Holloway, Opera, August 2018

    “…the serene beauty of Mafi’s lovely aria as queen of the fairies.”
    Michael Church, The Independent

    “…a nicely sparkling Nannetta from Soraya Mafi…”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times

    “…Soraya Mafi’s entrancing Nannetta…”
    George Hall, The Stage

    “The young lovers Nanetta and Fenton both shone as performed by Soraya Mafi and Oliver Johnston…”
    Sebastian Scotney, The Arts Desk

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    02 Mar 18 BRITTEN A Midsummer Night's Dream
    English National Opera

    “…Soraya Mafi’s sparkling Tytania…”
    Erica Jeal, Opera, May 2018

    “Soraya Mafi polishes her growing reputation with glintingly radiant singing as Tytania.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 05 March 2018

    “Soprano Soraya Mafi, one of five young ENO Harewood Artists in the cast, is bewitching as Tytania.”
    Clare Colvin, Express, 11 March 2018

    “With several ENO Harewood artists in the cast, Soraya Mafi’s regal Tytania stood out.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 11 March 2018

    “Soraya Mafi continues to ride the upward trajectory of her career with a diamanatine Titania, scattering coloratura like stardust.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 02 March 2018

    “Outstanding in quality [is] Soraya Mafi’s entrancing Tytania.”
    George Hall, The Stage, 02 March 2018

    “Five of the roles are taken by members of the company’s young Harewood artists programme, of whom Soraya Mafi’s bright Tytania and David Webb’s well-focused Lysander stand out.”
    Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 02 March 2018

    “Soraya Mafi’s vivid Tytania has the right imperiousness, and her wooing of Joshua Bloom’s splendidly-sung Bottom is wickedly suggestive.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 02 March 2018

    “Five members of ENO’s Harewood Artists Programme took part, including Soraya Mafi (excellent as Tytania), with fine performances also from Eleanor Dennis (Helena), Matthew Durkan (Demetrius), David Webb (Lysander) and Andri Björn Róbertsson (Theseus).”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 02 March 2019  

    “There’s a lovely gleam to the sound of Soraya Mafi’s spirited Tytania.”
    David Benedict, The Arts Desk, 02 March 2018

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    09 Oct 17 HANDEL Giulio Cesare
    English Touring Opera

    “Not since Masterson has London seen such a rounded, witty and moving Cleopatra, whom the late Winton Dean called ‘the equal of Shakespeare’s’. Every one of her eight demanding arias were thrown off with insouciant bravura and spellbinding breath control. Definitely a star Handel soprano in the making.”
    Hugh Canning, Opera, December 2017

    “The star turn is Soraya Mafi as the Egyptian queen, Handel’s “immortal sex kitten”, as Winton Dean put it. She sings all eight of her sublime and witty arias with an immaculate, instrumental clarity, bravura and emotional expressiveness… she is a budding Handelian of the highest calibre and a captivating performer.”
    Hugh Canning, Sunday Times

    “A Cleopatra to die for – Without a doubt, however, the show’s star is Soraya Mafi, whose beguiling Cleopatra melts hearts in “Giusto ciel” and “Piangero la sorte mia” before dazzling us with “Da tempeste il legno infranto”. Her voice is diamantine in projection, perfectly in tune, easy with the coloratura and happy to frolic high above the stave. When Mafi is singing, we get lift off.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 06 October 2017

    “Mafi, her tone silvery yet sensuous, is a comparably outstanding Cleopatra; Se Pietà is particularly exquisite – one of the advantages of the overlapping material is that we get to hear her sing it twice.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 09 October 2017

    “Soraya Mafi as sparkling, opportunistic Cleopatra, affecting in her arias”
    Neil Fisher, The Times, 06 October 2017

    “Soraya Mafi’s Cleopatra charts Handel’s delicate but ornate lines with skill”
    George Hall, The Stage, 05 October 2017 

    “Soraya Mafi’s Cleopatra is one of dainty, coquettish charm, rather than flashy, blazing virtuosity, and there is almost a fragile delicacy in the roulades of her and Ainslie’s ornamentations for their concluding duet, which is moving to hear.”
    Curtis Roger, Classicalsource, 07 October 2017 

    “…the standout performance comes from Soraya Mafi as Cleopatra. Displaying a sweet and strong soprano, she effortlessly meets of all the part’s considerable vocal demands, and radiates real presence and allure.”
    Sam Smith, MusicOHM, 07 October 2017

    “Soraya Mafi, dazzling as Cleopatra, was heartbreakingly beautiful in “Piangerò la sorte mia”, while her duet with Christopher Ainslie’s Caesar, “Caro! – Bella! – Più amabile beltà” is mesmerising…I could, to be fair, have listened to Mafi’s devastating “Se pietà” another hundred times without complaint”
    Olivia Bell, Bachtrack, 09 October 2017

    “English Touring Opera has assembled an outstanding cast for this prestige production, dominated by a performance from Soraya Mafi as Cleopatra that verges on the divine…Astounding highlights (among too many to mention) included Mafi’s third-act showpieces “Piangerò” and “Da tempeste”
    Mark Valencia, What’s on Stage, 09 October 2017

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    13 Feb 17 SULLIVAN The Pirates of Penzance
    English National Opera

    “Soraya Mafi outstanding, in both voice and comic acting, as Mabel”
    William Hartston, Express

    “Soraya Mafi is an adorable little minx of a Mabel, singing with diamantine accuracy and clarity – old-timers will be impressed if I say that her scintillating “Poor wand’ring one” was in the Valerie Masterson class.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

    “Mabel’s flights of coloratura fancy are elegantly delivered by Soraya Mafi”
    George Hall, The Guardian

    “David Webb’s puppy-dog Frederic and Soraya Mafi’s irresistible Mabel hold the show together with their starry-eyed romance. They sing like love’s young dream.”
    Mark Valencia, What’s on Stage

    “Soraya Mafi was a brilliant, feisty Mabel, combining pertness and winning charm with a brightly accurate coloratura. The way she stepped out of the chorus for her first entry was both visually and vocally dazzling, leading into a lovely confident account of ‘Poor wandering one’ complete with sparkling vocal decorations.”
    Robert Hugill, Opera Today

    “Soraya Mafi’s almost nymphomaniac Mabel is a brilliant foil – and she dazzled in Sullivan’s dig at the coloratura arias of Italian opera in ‘Poor wandering one’, as well as evoking a perfect juxtaposition of pathos and stiff-upper-lip resolve in ‘Ah leave me not to pine’.”
    Alexander Campbell, Classical Source

    “…the rest of the cast in fact, was outshone by Soraya Mafi’s simply awe-inspiring Mabel. Her “Poor wand’ring one,” with its vocal pyrotechnics, was simply a show-stopper; she had lyricism, too, and power. One waits with anticipation as to her return in further roles at this house.”
    Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard

    “Soroya Mafi brings a shimmering coloratura soprano to Mabel, and is ideally partnered by the dashing David Webb who has an effortless vocal lyricism as Frederic, the man she falls in love with.”
    Mark Shenton, The Stage

    “Soraya Mafi’s Mabel, the female love interest, lifts the spirits. Dispensing the parodic coloratura with elegance and wit, she allows us to believe that G&S embody the best of Rossini and Donizetti.”
    Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard

    “Soraya Mafi is outstanding as coquettish love interest Mabel. She has a sweet but powerful soprano, which surprises with its sudden appearance, and displays impeccable timing and beautiful diction.”
    Aliya Al-Hassan, Broadway World

    “…stellar performances gave the evening little peaks of triumph. Soraya Mafi, returning to the production but stepping up a sister, is ravishing as Mabel. Her scintillating parodic coloratura “Poor Wand’ring one” was just the right amount of sexy…”
    Olivia Bell, Bachtrack

    “…the standout performance in Act I comes from Soraya Mafi as Mabel (she played Edith in 2015). Her soprano is positively radiant as she tosses out coloratura with ease, and her gestures and movements are just as precise as her vocal output.”
    Sam Smith, MusicOMH

    “Soraya Mafi…her lyric soprano is gorgeous: she tugs at the heartstrings with Poor Wandering One and lease the lovely duet Ah, Leave Me Not To Pine with genuine pathos.”
    Tully Potter, Daily Mail, 17 February 2017

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    02 Oct 16 PUCCINI Suor Angelica
    Opera North

    “…the many cameo roles in the large cast were all strong and characterful: among them Soraya Mafi”
    The Guardian, Fiona Maddocks 

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    03 Aug 16 MOZART Così fan tutte
    West Green House Opera

    “The highlight for me was Soraya Mafi’s Despina, who acted her socks off and delivered some excellent singing with a voice and stage presence that constantly charmed. A silver clarity at the top of her voice and perky sense of line made the voice easy to listen to… The regular glint of fun in her eyes and her boisterous bustling about stage brought Despina to life.”
    Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack

    “Soraya Mafi brought maturity to the part of Despina, but the requisite, infectious sense of fun and freedom, as she spurred on her mistresses in their amorous adventures.”
    Curtis Rogers, Classical Source

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    27 Jun 16 JANACEK Jenufa
    English National Opera

    “…Soraya Mafi’s spirited Karolka.”
    Mark Berry, Seen and Heard 

    “Soraya Mafi, in her first go at the part, flounced and minced effectively.”
    Russ McDonald, Opera, September 2016

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    14 Mar 16 MOZART Die Zauberflöte
    English National Opera

    “Soraya Mafi looked and sounded winning as Papagena.”
    Russ McDonald, Opera

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    12 Oct 15 SONDHEIM Sweeney Todd
    Welsh National Opera

    “Soraya Mafi a sweet, deliquescent Johanna”
    Stephen Walsh, The Arts Desk

    “Soraya Mafi [sang] delightfully as Johanna.”
    Lucy Jeffrey, Scene and Heard 

    “Soraya Mafi is an affecting Johanna.”
    Mark Valencia, What’s on Stage

    “The lilting duets of the young lovers Anthony and Johanna – sung beautifully by Jamie Muscato and Soraya Mafi – is another highlight.”
    Eryl Crump, Welsh Daily Post

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    28 Apr 15 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Competition
    Wigmore Hall

    “Soraya Mafi, a 26-year-old Mancunian from the RCM, has already made her mark – she has small roles in ENO’s forthcoming ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘The Magic Flute’. Her charm and exuberance shone through Johann Strauss’s ‘Frühlingstimmen’, giving notice of an Adele and Zerbinetta to come. I loved her beautifully modulated reading of Liszt’s ecstatic ‘Oh! quand je dors’ and appreciated her pure enunciation in Julius Harrison’s ‘Philomel’.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph


Peter Grimes First Niece

West Side Story Maria

Gulio Cesare Cleopatra
Arianna in Creta Arianna

The Cunning Little Vixen

Il re pastore Aminta

Carousel Julie Jordan

L’incoronazione di Poppea Virtu

Dialogues des Carmélites Constance

Dido and Aeneas Belinda

L’Enfant et les Sortileges Le Feu, Le Rossignol

Die Fledermaus Adele

Sweeney Todd Johanna

The Mikado Yum-yum, Peep-Bo
The Pirates of Penzanze Mabel

Opera Scenes:

Paul Bunyan Tiny

L’Elisir d’amore Adina
Linda di Chammounix Linda

Alcina Morgana
Orlando Dorinda

Werther Sophie

Le nozze di Figaro Susanna
Così fan tutte Despina
Die Zauberflöte Pamina

Orpheus in the Underworld Eurydice

Arabella Zdenka

Falstaff Nannetta

Concert Repertoire:

St Matthew Passion
St John Passion
Cantata No.51 ‘Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen’
Mass in B minor


Les Illuminations


Israel in Egypt
Dixit Dominus
Judas Maccabeus



The Peacemakers
The Armed Man

Hear My Prayer

Missa Brevis in G minor
Exsultate Jubilate

Carmina Burana