Soraya Mafi

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Soraya Mafi is an operatic soprano and recording artist who has sung leading roles in the opera houses and concert halls of Europe and North America.[1][2][3][4] Mafi's performances have been broadcast live on radio, television, and in cinema.[5][6][7][8] She has performed at international festivals and sports events and was nominated for Young Singer of the Year at the International Opera Awards in 2019.[9][10][11] She is an inaugural Honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Northern College of Music.[12]

Life and career[edit]

Mafi was born in Bury, a town in Greater Manchester, and was educated at Bury Grammar School for Girls and Holy Cross College.[13][14][15] She attended the Royal Northern College of Music where she studied singing under Sandra Dugdale, then the Royal College of Music under the tutelage of Janis Kelly.[16] Upon choosing Mafi for their ‘Rising Star – Great Artists of Tomorrow’ series, BBC Music Magazine published a feature interview that explored the challenges she faced as an undergraduate, undergoing surgery on her vocal cords, and her subsequent recovery with a vocal trauma specialist.[17]

During her time as a student, Mafi received multiple awards, including The RCM Lieder Prize and The Elsie Thurston Prize.[13][18] Notable performances include singing in England's two largest football stadiums, Old Trafford Stadium and Wembley Stadium.[19] She sang the Brazilian and English national anthems at Wembley Stadium’s inaugural match, England vs. Brazil, becoming the first woman to sing there.[20][10] Still a student, Mafi made her professional début as Soeur Constance in Grange Park Opera’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites to critics’ approval in The Times, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times.[21][22][23]

Graduating with distinction, Mafi was interviewed by Rupert Christiansen for his feature article ‘New Face – Soraya Mafi’ in The Telegraph.[16][15] She then won the Royal Overseas League Competition, The Maggie Teyte Award, The Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award, Second Prize at The Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Second Prize and Audience Prize at the International Mozart Singing Competition and the Chilcott Award.[15][24][25][26][27]

Debuts in the UK and Europe followed: notable performances included performing solo recitals in Fauré’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, French song in The Crush Room at the Royal Opera House as well as Britten’s Les Illuminations at The Royal Festival Hall and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man at St David's Hall.[2][15] She made her debut at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris as the title role in Mozart's Il Re Pastore (Aminta).[1] Broadcast live to cinemas in the UK, Ireland, and Germany, Mafi sang Edith in Mike Leigh's The Pirates of Penzance at the London Coliseum (English National Opera).[28] With additional re-runs in the United States and Australia – it overtook Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow at Metropolitan Opera to become "the most lucrative opera to be screened in cinemas".[29] Mafi made her Welsh National Opera debut as Johanna in Sweeney Todd at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff.[30]

As a Harewood Artist, Mafi has sung numerous leading roles in productions for English National Opera (Mabel in Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance and Tytania in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream).[31][32] In The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen wrote of Mafi's Mabel performance: “her scintillating ‘Poor Wand’ring One’ was in the Valerie Masterson class”.[33] Of her Tytania Christiansen wrote: “Soraya Mafi continues to ride the upward trajectory of her career with a diamantine Tytania, scattering coloratura like stardust.” (The Telegraph).[34]

The critics at The Times chose Soraya Mafi as the opera 'Face to Watch' in The Arts Highlights of 2019.[35] She made her Wigmore Hall solo recital debut with Graham Johnson.[36] Undertaking her first opera in the United States, Mafi made her Seattle Opera debut as Flora in Britten's Turn of the Screw.[37] Mafi played the title role in Grange Park Opera's five-star rated production (The Telegraph and The Evening Standard) of Humperdinck's Hansel & Gretel.[38][39]

Returning to Washington, Mafi sang the role of Gilda in Rigoletto for Seattle Opera, which was recorded for broadcast on Classic King FM.[40] Mafi played the title role in Menotti's two-person opera, The Telephone - a Scottish Opera film for Edinburgh International Festival. The production was awarded five-stars by The Scotsman,[41] The Times[42] and Bachtrack[43] and was the opera pick of the week in The Times’ ‘The Hot List’.[44] Broadcast live from Alexandra Palace on SkyArts,[6] Mafi played Musetta in Puccini's La Bohème by English National Opera.[45] Described as 'Europe's first drive-in opera', the production was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award (Best Live Event).[45][46]

Notable roles in 2022 include: Susanna in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro at Seattle Opera; a guest artist appearance at Seattle Symphony’s Stravinsky & Brahms Concerts at Benaroya Hall; Susanna in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro for Glyndebourne Touring Opera; and Morgana in Handel's Alcina at the Glyndebourne Festival.[47][48][49][50]


Mafi's recordings include:


  1. ^ a b Merlin, Christian (2015-01-23). "Mozart version manga". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  2. ^ a b "Soraya". Opéra national du Rhin. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  3. ^ "Review: Seattle Opera stages a 'Rigoletto' that's a surefire argument starter". The Seattle Times. 2019-08-12. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  4. ^ Wild, Stephi. "Stravinsky & Brahms Concerts at the Seattle Symphony". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  5. ^ "BBC Radio 3 - In Tune, Take Five: Soraya Mafi". BBC. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  6. ^ a b "Full cast and creative team announced for ENO Drive & Live at Alexandra Palace | English National Opera". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  7. ^ "BBC Radio 3 - In Tune Highlights, "I spend most of act two in's quite enjoyable!" - Soraya Mafi on playing Titania, Queen of the fairies". BBC. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  8. ^ "The Pirates of Penzance, ENO, review: 'jolly good - but a crowd-puller?'". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  9. ^ "The Telephone | Scottish Opera". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  10. ^ a b Bourne, Dianne (2007-04-13). "Soraya's Wembley debut". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  11. ^ "International Opera Awards Nominees". Opera Awards. 2019-01-29. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  12. ^ "Soraya Mafi - Royal Northern College of Music - Honorary Associate Artists". RNCM. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  13. ^ a b "A soaring success for Soraya". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  14. ^ "Soraya sings for millions". Bury Times. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  15. ^ a b c d "Soraya Mafi – Biography". The Kathleen Ferrier Awards. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  16. ^ a b Christiansen, Rupert (28 May 2014). "New Face - Soraya Mafi". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  17. ^ Cooper, Elinor (March 2017). "Rising Star - Great Artists of Tomorrow". BBC Music Magazine. March 2017: 11.
  18. ^ "Singer Soraya wows judges". Rossendale Free Press. 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  19. ^ "Why Soraya has success in store". Manchester Evening News. 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  20. ^ "Soraya back on song". Manchester Evening News. 2007-05-23. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  21. ^ Brown, Geoff. "Dialogue des Carmélites at Grange Park, Hampshire". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  22. ^ "The Carmelites, review". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  23. ^ Canning, Hugh. "This Venice is very much alive". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  24. ^ Fullarton, Clair (2019-03-13). "International opera star getting set for show in town this week". Daily Record. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  25. ^ Wright, Katy (18 July 2016). "Soraya Mafi wins £10,000 Chilcott Award". Rhinegold. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  26. ^ "Help Musicians | Young singers scoop orchestral song opportunity". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  27. ^ "Three new Harewood Artists at ENO | English National Opera". Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  28. ^ Release Info English National Opera: The Pirates of Penzance (2015) - IMDb, retrieved 2022-05-06
  29. ^ Hemley, Matthew (21 May 2015). "Mike Leigh's The Pirates of Penzance breaks cinema screening record". The Stage. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  30. ^ Morrison, Richard. "Sweeney Todd at Millennium Centre, Cardiff". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  31. ^ "Soraya Mafi | Artists | English National Opera". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  32. ^ Morrison, Richard. "Opera review: A Midsummer Night's Dream at the London Coliseum". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  33. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (2017-02-10). "ENO's The Pirates of Penzance makes for bright, light entertainment - review". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  34. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (2018-03-02). "The perfect antidote to a cold winter's evening - A Midsummer Night's Dream, ENO, London Coliseum, review". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  35. ^ Treneman, Ann; Maher, Kevin; Hodgkinson, Will; Campbell-Johnston, Rachel; Maxwell, Dominic; Craine, Debra; Midgley, Carol; Fisher, Neil; Morrison, Richard (28 December 2018). "The arts highlights of 2019". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  36. ^ Hugill, Planet. "The lure of the East: Soraya Mafi's debut recital at the Wigmore Hall". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  37. ^ "Seattle Opera's 'The Turn of the Screw' is tense, spooky". The Seattle Times. 2018-10-17. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  38. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (2019-06-24). "Hänsel und Gretel – Grange Park Opera triumphs in a tale of two vastly different productions". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  39. ^ Millington, Barry (2019-06-25). "Hansel & Gretel review – Revamped fairy tale casts its spell". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  40. ^ Kazuko, Gabrielle. "Enjoy Seattle Opera Mornings on KING FM". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  41. ^ "Edinburgh International Festival review: Scottish Opera - The Telephone". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  42. ^ Morrison, Richard. "The Telephone review — a little comic gem". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  43. ^ "A delicious bite-sized chunk of romantic opera: The Telephone". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  44. ^ "What to do this weekend — from Linda McCartney to Jimmy Car". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  45. ^ a b "Orchestral manoeuvres in a car park: does ENO's drive-in opera hit the high notes?". the Guardian. 2020-09-20. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  46. ^ "RTS Programme Awards 2021". Royal Television Society. 2020-10-23. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  47. ^ "Stravinsky & Brahms Concerts". Seattle Symphony Press. 25 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  48. ^ "Seattle Opera - The Marriage of Figaro". Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  49. ^ "Glyndebourne - The Marriage of Figaro". Glyndebourne. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  50. ^ "Askonas Holt - Soraya Mafi". Askonas Holt. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  51. ^ "Review of Mozart: Il sogno di Scipione". Gramophone. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  52. ^ "Mozart: Il sogno di Scipione". The Mozartists. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  53. ^ "Alfred Cellier: The Mountebanks; Suite Symphonique". Classical Music. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  54. ^ "Decades: A Century of Song – Volume 3 (1830-1840)". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  55. ^ "Ruhr Piano Festival Edition Vol. 37: Vive La France!: Debussy & Saint-Saëns". Presto Music. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  56. ^ "Dibdin - The Jubilee". Music Web International. Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  57. ^ "Menotti: The Telephone | Linn Records". Retrieved 2022-05-05.
  58. ^ Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (Edinburgh International Festival), 2021-12-10, retrieved 2022-05-06
  59. ^ "Barber: The Complete Songs". Presto Music. Retrieved 2022-05-05.

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