Willighagen in May 2016
March 27, 2004 |
Holland's Got Talent
Willighagen auditioned for Holland's Got Talent and impressed the judging panel with her version of "O mio babbino caro" from Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi; within seconds the judges were staring in awe and disbelief. Her performance rapidly became a YouTube hit with over 36 million viewers as of June 2015. In the semi-finals, she performed Gounod's "Ave Maria", and in the final, she sang "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's opera Turandot. She won the competition with over 50% of the viewer vote.
In February 2014, Willighagen recorded her debut album, Amira. The album contains 10 tracks including the songs she performed during Holland's Got Talent. The album was released in the Netherlands on March 28, reaching a Gold status only two weeks later. She later appeared with André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra in Maastricht during the recording of the album of Love in Venice after a member of his orchestra had seen her winning Holland's Got Talent on YouTube.
Willighagen's first international performances took place at the Starlight Classics Concerts in Somerset West, South Africa on February 28 and March 1, 2014. On April 30, she performed in Las Vegas as part of the prize she received when winning Holland's Got Talent.
According to statements on her website, with half of the revenue she makes by performing and her album sales, Willighagen supports her own charity project to build playgrounds for poor children. In March 2014, she opened the first playground in Ikageng, a township near Potchefstroom, South Africa. To formalize development and maintenance of playgrounds, Willighagen's Gelukskinders foundation was established on November 1, 2014. On behalf of her foundation, Willighagen opened a second playground in Ikageng on August 1, 2016. She also mentioned plans to build a third playground before the end of that year. On November 8, 2014, Willighagen visited the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome to receive the International Giuseppe Sciacca Award 2014. In November 2015, Willighagen released her second album, Merry Christmas. Besides a selection of well-known Christmas carols, the album contains various famous arias.
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- Siddique, Haroon (30 October 2013). "Amira Willighagen, nine, sings opera and stuns Holland's Got Talent judges". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
The disbelief at the powerful voice emanating from such a small girl was compounded when Amira revealed that she had not had any singing lessons but was self-taught, using YouTube tutorials.
- "Nine-year-old blows judges away", Stuff.co.nz, 30 October 2013
- "Talented little girl leaves the judges speechless" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD9PDAxJrZQ
- "The New Jackie Evancho: Amira Willighagen Sings 'Ave Maria,' Advances to Finals of Holland's Got Talent". Classicalite. 2013-12-22. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
- "Breaking: Amira Willighagen, Better Than Jackie Evancho, Sings 'Nessun Dorma' to Win Holland's Got Talent", Classicalite, 28 December 2013
- "Amira's first CD is coming!", AmiraFans, 5 February 2014
- "Star shines for township playground", Cape Times, 24 February 2014
- Official web site "Gelukskinders" foundation, 1 November 2014
- New playground Lesego open!, Official web site "Gelukskinders" foundation, 15 August 2016
- "Amira, giovanissima soprano, Premio Sciacca Musica", premiosciacca.it, 8 November 2014 (in Italian)