Wednesday, May 31, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 10, 1444 H
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Born in Muscat, this opera singer came back 16 years later to perform at ROHM


As its last opera show for the season, the Royal Opera House Muscat journeyed back to the era of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart through the opera buffa Cosi fan tutte which in Italian means, “All women do the same.”

Of the many surprises that are noteworthy in this production, it was the discovery that one of the main characters was actually born in Oman.

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Cosi fan tutte is often described as a comic opera. It was premiered in Vienna on January 26, 1790.

A day before the stage performance, ROHM held a talk to help the media and other invited guests dissect and understand this wonderful work.

The vibrant speaker, Gaston Fournier, excitedly told the group attending the pre-event that the story of Cosi fan tutte took place in the Bay of Naples in the 18th century. The setting was the library at ROHM and in the middle of this room was a piano. It became an important element because soon the pianist, Aclelia Novello Tommasimo transformed the room for opera performances, and the books took a back seat. Facio spoke about the characters and ushered in each actor.

He shared what society was like, and he also gave an insight into the characters.

Noemi Muschetti played the role of Fiordiligi, Michelle Patti was Guglielmo, Antonio Gates was Ferrando, Lavinia Bini was Despina and the old philosopher, Don Alfonso was played by Alfonso Di Lleto. Dorabella, was portrayed by Deepa Johnny.

When it was her turn to introduce herself, Deepa casually mentioned her name, but the next part was quite a surprise for the attendees.

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“I was born in Muscat, and I must say, it feels great to be home!” she revealed.

Oman Observer caught up with Deepa after the performance.

“I never thought I would ever be back in Muscat after my family moved to Canada. It just so happened that I had the opportunity to perform at the Royal Opera House Muscat and it has brought me back 16 years later! So it is a great thrill to be back here.”

Not only born in Oman, she also attended school at the Indian School Darsait.

“I was here until the fourth grade. When I was around 10 years old, we moved to Alberta, Canada,” she said. This is where she took up classical music.

“In Muscat, I had taken lessons in Indian Carnatic voice, so I had an initial introduction to voice lessons, but in Canada I studied Western traditions of opera and classical music,” Deepa reflected.

Below is how the conversation with Deepa went.

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Indian Carnatic and Western Classical music are two different techniques. Was the transition a difficult experience?

“I think the Carnatic music really helped. It made my voice move easier, but it was definitely a big learning curve to move to opera because we sing in foreign languages. We sing in Italian, German, Spanish, and sometimes in Russian. So those are the challenges of the job. You have to be fluent and be able to speak these languages,” she noted.

French was definitely easier because she was in Canada. But she was perfectly at ease with Italian too.

“It has been years of learning, and I love singing in Italian. Here, the whole cast of Cosi fan tutte is fully Italian except me. So it has been a good introduction for me to hear my colleagues talk in Italian and me interact with the Italian speakers,” she explained.

Deppa is based in Los Angeles, where she’s currently working with LA Opera Company. But this summer she’s going to make a European debut and is scheduled to perform in London, France, and Austria.

“I am really happy to start in Oman this year before I set out to different European countries,” she said excitedly.

Deppa also shared that her mother is here too.

“My mother is thrilled to be back and see me perform in Muscat. Every time I talk about it, she begins to cry. She is so happy,” Deppa said.

Bringing back memories Deepa went to Darsait of course, she even met one of her kindergarten teachers and was thrilled the teacher recognised her. And she did everything that was on her bucket list.

“I went to Muttrah, Muttrah Souq, Nakhal Fort, I have been getting Shawarma every day. It was just nostalgic revisiting all the old memories,” the singer reflected. She’s also added on her must-do list a visit to a desert camp.

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What challenges did you face being a classical opera singer?

The challenges were early in my career. I learned to overcome, and now I know how to move forward. I think a lot of things that have happened in my life is because people came and directed me so early on. If not for those people, I’m not sure if life would have led me through music. That is because there are so many reasons why I should not have been a musician because I’m an Indian and in the family it is not the most supported idea. But somehow the right people came by and found something in me, and they believed in me. They encouraged me to continue my passion. So if that happens to you, don’t stop. Never give up, continue to work on your skill set, and take life as ‘always learning’. Learning something new, even when something goes wrong. It is always an opportunity for growth.

So continue to work hard, and you too can dream big and have everything come true.

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