Ariana Vafadari performs mystic songs in port city

Alliance Francaise de Chittagong organised an evening of mystic songs featuring Franco-Iranian singer Ariana Vafadari and her group at Shilpakala Academy Chittagong on Sunday. The event was the artiste’s first performance in Bangladesh.

The group performed several operas composed by Ariana, with a unique blend of western classical music and oriental music.

In her performance, the French singer performed a lullaby. When asked if mothers in her area still sing lullabies to their children, she laughed saying: “They did not. But now they are picking it up again after my song was released.”

Ariana hopes to be back in Bangladesh whenever she gets a chance. “The audience was great here. I could see smiles and felt very good energy. It was a great surprise,” she said.

A civil engineer by training with a deep love for mathematics, Ariana has travelled the world blowing audiences away with her operas. About this shift of career to music from engineering, Ariana said she wanted to be a mathematician. But as her love for music grew she decided to pursue singing as a career. Her resolve strengthened after she met a Russian opera group.

“My parents urged me to do a diploma rather than doing music. So, I studied engineering. At the same time I was studying music at Academy of Music in Paris,” she said.

The singer was born in Iran and came to France at the age of five. Having an Iranian father with Zoroastrian roots and a French mother, Ariana had a chance to explore the culture of both Europe and Central Asia. She thus had a knack for singing opera with an Iranian oriental style backed with local instruments like bass, lute, flute and percussion.

“Western classical music is very strict in nature and an artiste cannot go out of the box. But oriental music is free and the scope for improvisation is a plenty. It was really hard for me to improvise with opera at first. But the feeling of liberation in this style of music helped me to overcome the hurdle,” the singer expressed.

Ariana takes great pride in her Zoroastrian lineage. One of her favourite singers is late Freddie Mercury, the vocalist of British rock band Queen who also was a Zoroastrian. “Perhaps this is common between me and him. He was a phenomenal singer. The way his voice was totally free and the emotion he poured even while singing pop music is very rare. In my singing, I want to go everywhere I want to, as low and as high I can. Of course, Freddie was a great inspiration in conquering that,” she said.

Published on The Daily Star