Hitting a High Note
Since age 4, family and friends surrounding Gala El Hadidi ’05, ’07 noticed her strong voice and talent in imitating tunes. “I have been singing for as long as I can remember,” said El Hadidi. “My mom used to listen to a lot of music when she was pregnant, so I grew up with a musical ear.”
Today, El Hadidi, the youngest singer to join the Cairo Opera Company, is studying for a Master of Music degree at Yale’s School of Music and has performed as a solo artist in Italy, Germany, Finland, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and the United States. “I did not train myself to be an opera singer; it was just natural,” said El Hadidi, who is a fluent speaker of Arabic, English, German, French and Italian.
At age 10, El Hadidi became a choir member in her German school. Five years later, she qualified to enter a voice competition in Turkey for all German-school students. It was then that her family discovered that El Hadidi is not just a regular singer, but an opera singer. She joined the Cairo Opera House’s Talent Development Center, and sang in Egypt’s dubbed Disney movies as well as in small concerts at the Cairo Opera House. A week before entering AUC in September 2001, 18-year-old El Hadidi had signed a contract as a soloist with the Cairo Opera House, becoming their youngest singer. “When people started telling me that I have an opera voice, it enticed me to enter the field and break the stereotype of opera singers being static and old, especially that opera singing in the world is now following in the footsteps of a Hollywood style.”
At the university, El Hadidi maintained a high academic record, graduating with high honors. After graduating from AUC with a bachelor’s in philosophy and a minor in music, El Hadidi went on to pursue a master’s in English and comparative literature. She wrote her thesis on “Carmen: Debating the Femme Fatale,” where she used her knowledge as a musician to talk about literary influence on music, solidifying her knowledge in the field. “After six years at AUC, I became more secure in my art,” she said, adding that what she loves most about music is its ability to unite people together from all backgrounds.
In 2005, El Hadidi received a scholarship to attend the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart, Germany. The mayor of Stuttgart also invited El Hadidi to sing in honor of Egypt’s First Lady Suzanne Mubarak who was receiving her citizenship of the city. In 2008, she was awarded an outstanding achievement prize and recognition by Egypt’s Ministry of Culture. In 2010, she was given an Encouragement Award by the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions as a New England regional finalist.
El Hadidi’s most memorable moments, however, are Christmas concerts. “As they are repeated every year, the audience can see me grow up in front of them,” she said. “I feel huge amounts of love from the fans, my AUC professors and my parents, who were always there for me, supporting me all the way.”