Askonas Holt is delighted to welcome soprano Amina Edris to its roster for worldwide management.
Hailed as a “revelation” (Forum Opera) and praised for her “lustrous” tone (Opera News), Amina will sing Micaëla in a new production of Carmen at the Opéra National de Bordeaux this summer, conducted by Marc Minkowski. Other future highlights include Violetta (La traviata) for Opéra de Limoges and La Folie (Platée) for Opéra de Paris.
Amina was born in Egypt and raised in New Zealand. She was awarded First Prize and Audience Prize at the inaugural Concours Bordeaux Medoc Lyrique in 2018. In 2019 she sang Juliette (Roméo et Juliette) at San Francisco Opera and Fatime (Les Indes galantes) at Grand-Théâtre de Genève, while 2020 saw her perform the title-role in Manon for Opéra de Paris.
Ahead of her rehearsals in Bordeaux, Amina spoke to us about her influences and future plans:
Tell us a bit about musical upbringing, and who has influenced and inspired you on your journey so far?
There are three people in my life who I consider to be important figures in my musical journey so far: my uncle Mamdouh Edris, my coach Sharolyn Kimmorley and my voice teacher César Ulloa. Each one of them has inspired me in their own unique way but the common thread between all three is their unwavering support and belief in what I have to offer. My uncle, being a musician himself – albeit not professionally – was most likely the first person in my family to notice that I was somewhat musically inclined. He saw that I was curious when it came to music, or even art in general, so he became that person who inspired me and pushed me to explore this world. My coach Sharolyn Kimmorley taught me and continues to teach me determination, resilience and the importance of hard work. I met her when I was 19 with very little understanding of opera as an art form or as a business. She had a reputation for being strict and direct in her approach to teaching. The tougher and stricter she was with me, the more I appreciated her even further. She is, without a doubt, an invaluable figure in my life and career whose opinion and input I value greatly. Last but not least, my voice teacher César Ulloa. I met César during a time when I was unsure about my path in this art form. My technique was far from solid and I was searching for the right teacher for me. Much like Sharolyn, he is calm yet tough and appreciates good work ethic. It doesn’t take very long to notice his immense passion, generosity, and dedication to all his students. Working with César made me feel grounded and I cherish every moment that I get to learn from him and soak up all his knowledge. I’m indebted to these three wonderful people. They are a constant source of inspiration for me.
Two of your signature roles are Manon and Juliette. How do you prepare yourself to embody these tragic heroines, and how do you think audiences today respond to them?
Manon and Juliette are two very special characters to me. There is something about Manon in particular that I feel very connected and drawn to. In opera, where we often sing about one emotion for an extended period of time, it’s refreshing when you can play a character with a big arc. Manon is definitely that. She goes through such a long journey, which is a treat for any artist because it means there is an array of emotions to go through and vocal colours to explore. Even though Manon’s story unfolds in a different way to Juliette’s, both stories carry messages that are very much relatable to audiences today. Roméo et Juliette is, of course, a classic. A story which centres around the theme of love and hate and how that can drive people to do outrageous things. And Manon, a story of a young woman who makes one reckless choice after another, driven by impulse, and ultimately paying the price.
What roles are you singing over the next few seasons, and what’s on your wish list into the future?
Some of the roles that are coming up for me are Micaëla in Carmen, Alice in Robert le diable, and Violetta in La traviata. On the wish list for the future, I would love to continue expanding my French repertoire, but also explore more Italian repertoire like Amalia in I Masnadieri, the Mozart ladies and delve into the Puccini heroines such as Mimi and Liu.
What has helped you to stay positive throughout the pandemic? What do you like to do when not on stage?
This past year has been challenging, to say the least. I’ve experienced some ups and downs, as I imagine many of my colleagues have experienced as well. As simple as it may sound, something that has kept me sane during this time has been staying regularly in touch with my family and friends, and spending way too much time in the kitchen! However, I have to say that in the past five months I’ve been able to be back home in New Zealand where I’m tremendously lucky to perform again and enjoy quite a bit of freedom that I know not everyone has been able to experience this past year, and for that I’m very grateful.