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Ballads of East and West

The accomplished soprano singer, Darya Dadvar, was born in Iran and is now living in Paris. The development of her artistic talents was very much influenced by her mother who was initially a singer, and later moved on to song-writing and directing a marionette theatre in Tehran. Growing up in an environment where she was in close contact both with the stage and with music from an early age helped to shape her interests and aspirations. She loved music but her main passion was singing. “At school, I used to stand on a chair during breaks and sing for my class-mates”. But with the Islamic Revolution came the banning of music classes. She first learned about it through their music teacher at school, who broke the news to the class one day that she was regrettably leaving the school as music lessons were now banned.

Darya moved to France in 1991, where she studied music at the National Conservatory of Toulouse. She obtained a gold medal and her Diploma in voice in 1999, and subsequently completed a professional course in the baroque style at the Conservatory. She further holds a postgraduate degree from the School of Fine Arts of Toulouse. Darya has been living in Paris since 2001, engaged in a successful career as a soprano. She has performed in many concerts around the world, including Canada, France, Germany, UK, and America. But the performance of which she is particularly proud is her leading role in the tragedy of Rostam and Sohrab from Ferdowsi’s epic poem, the Shahnameh. It was a thrilling experience for her, not only because she was singing in her own country, but also as it was the first time that a woman was given permission to sing solo in front of a mixed audience of men and women in Iran.

Darya has created a style of her own by combining elements from the traditional music and poetry of Iran with European classical and contemporary songs. The idea came to her in her final year at the Conservatory, when the students had to perform a foreign song as part of their examination. Drawing on memories of the beautiful songs she had heard during her childhood in Iran, she decided to rearrange and perform a traditional Persian song in a western operatic style. She gradually developed this form of music, adding features from jazz and blues as well. She does not allow any language barrier to get in her way either. Her wide and varied repertoire includes not only many languages, but several of the ethnic dialects of Iran too.

In this multimedia report, Darya talks about her childhood, her training, and her musical career, and shares with us excerpts from her various songs.

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