A classical weekend as Kigali welcomes Opera

30 singers receive certificates after completing a Master Class before the Launch of Opera in Kigali on Friday. / Craish Bahizi

It was a night to remember on Friday in the city of Kigali when Rwanda hosted her first-ever opera with the unexpected turn-up of different delegations.

The much anticipated for the ceremony was organised by the European Union in Rwanda in partnership with L’Institut Francais, Chorale de Kigali and two popular European Opera figures, Elodie Kimmel and Loic Felix.

According to the organizers, the centuries-old musical tradition that originated from Italy has come to Kigali for its very first time.

Opera is a dramatic story told through song. It is considered by many to be the most complete art form, combining all of the elements of art, words, music, drama and dance.

The concert also saw 30 Rwandan music students who participated in the opera master class awarded. The participants were trained by two visiting opera singers, last week.

30 singers from different choirs in Rwanda participated in a master class where they learnt different techniques in voice variations, musical interpretations among others. 

Nicola Bellomo, ambassador of the European Union to Rwanda, hailed the turn-up, saying that it is impressive.

He also pointed out that the concert was organised as part of the annual European Autumn of culture to stress on the existing cultural relations between Rwanda and the European Union.

“It is the beginning of a series of other activities organised during this time of the year such as the annual European Film Festival,” Bellomo said.

Elodie Kimmel, a French Soprano singer who was also a trainer said that opera is a form of theatre translated into music and most of the time supported by an orchestra.

Instead of speaking words on stage, an opera singer delivers them on a tune enhanced with dynamics, the low and high notes that usually bring intensity to the purpose of the piece.

Jean-Claude Byiringiro, the Director of Chorale de Kigali, said among other things the choir has benefited a lot in terms of vocal training and the ability to integrate an audience through opera training.

“This was a special event. We are normally used in our traditional music and our cultural music. But today we have learnt opera music through professional training, it was just interesting to learn. Especially with trained voices.”

He is also of the view that Rwandans should be encouraged to learn this kind of music.

“The unique aspect of opera to me is that it conveys an entire story. This is based on the feeling that music can communicate people’s reactions and emotions better than words or even pictures,” said Honorine Umutoniwase, one of the awarded participants who completed master class training.

Besides, she adds, Opera takes any type of dramatic story and tries to make it more exciting and more believable with the help of music.

The audience was thrilled with different sensational opera extracts by Chorale de Kigali and the European duo, including L’Elisir d’Amore de Donizetti, Caro elisir, se moi!, Ma mere je la revois among others. 


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