Dubai's Luiza Formenius' new single fuses pop and classical
Has remade a Carmen classic for 2019
BORN IN SWEDEN, raised in the UAE and with stints spent in England and the US, it is fair to say opera singer Luiza Formenius' international upbringing did not hinder the soprano's chances of launching a professional singing career. Beginning classical training at twelve years old, the Trinity Guildhall London graduate has played gigs all over the world and notable high-profile performances here in Dubai, the city she has called 'home base' since the age of six, as a solo performer and along with the Dubai Divas collective.
Formenius has released a new single this festive season, Rebel Bird. In it she has given Bizet's 1875 operatic classic, Carmen, a modern twist - blurring the lines between pop and opera thanks to her musical tastes that balance Pavarotti and Andrea Boccelli with modern legends like Elvis Presley and Freddie Mercury.
Released under the Universal Music label, the video is available to watch on YouTube now. We caught up with Formenius to find out more.
What can you tell us about Rebel Bird and what inspired you to make it?
The song is a cover of the Habanera from Carmen. I have done my own take on the track in an attempt to make it more accessible to younger people. It has always been one of my favourite opera arias and I'd had the idea for this song many years ago, so it just had to be my first release.
What is life like for a Dubai-based opera singer? How regular are gigs ?
I can't answer for anyone else, but I've loved developing my art here in the UAE. There are so many interesting venues in Dubai and since opera still is quite new to the region, sometimes you have to improvise a venue. I think the one that comes to mind immediately was a performance I did with the Dubai Divas where the stage was set up in Emirates Towers between the escalators that go down towards the ballroom from the hotel.
How do you feel people in the UAE respond to opera?
The interest for opera music in the UAE is definitely growing with each passing year. This is showcased by Dubai's opera house and all the world-renowned opera stars who have already performed on its stage in the three short years since it's opening.
How would you describe your journey in becoming a singer?
When I arrived in Dubai from Sweden, I went to a performance of a local group of singers called 'viva la voce' and they inspired me so much that I just knew I wanted to start singing with their coach. I was six or seven. That was when I met Janet Hassouneh, my first vocal coach, and now the founder of the UAE's National Symphony Orchestra. She inspired me. She always supported my dream to one day become a singer and nurtured my love for classical music.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to make a similar journey?
It's going to sound cliche but don't give up, no matter what anyone tells you, and never stop learning and practicing.
Were you apprehensive about mixing an iconic tune?
Of course! Being such a well-known melody and also the fact that I was modernising a classic song was daunting at first. But I knew that this was the only way to make it more accessible to a younger audience.
Luiza's hopes for the future
"I really hope that people enjoy listening to my song Rebel Bird as much as I enjoyed making it and I hope this track inspires the younger generations' interest in classical music. I am currently working on more music, which will be released very soon!"