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Stéphane Sénéchal from Damascus Opera House: “You can’t walk 100 meter in Syria without observing civilization”

(ST)_ I have always been swollen with pride for belonging to Syria, such a rich place in the middle of a cradle of civilizations. However, when a well-known and descent name such as Stéphane Sénéchal, the French opera singer tells us from Damascus Opera House stage: “You should be proud of being a Syrian; the Syrian people are a very strong people who defy death everyday”.

Damascus Opera House hosted an opera concert held by the international tenor, Stéphane Sénéchal, an ardent traveler, passionate about geography, ecology, international relations and geostrategy; who has a multidisciplinary degree in  Geopolitics, Art History and Italian Literature, and is as well a Reiki master and Red Cross volunteer France-USA.

Considering opera singing a vocation that needs concentration and theatrical performance skills, can we regard a tenor as an actor?  Mr. Sénéchal puts it in plain words “Opera chant is one the most exigent kind of singing among all other types of singing, because it requires mastering a mixture of skills varying from a vast extension in the voice from the highest pitch to the lowest. It requires a powerful voice; and mastering various languages since the opera chant includes the French, Italian, German and Russian.”  Moreover, the opera chant necessitates a theatric dimension fundamental for being able to interpret opera performance on stage since those melodies first came out from the opera. “Therefore an opera singer should perform a role on stage while singing” affirmed Mr. Sénéchal.

Regarding the universality of opera chanting and its usage of World literature poems, Stephane Senechal explained that opera compositors, who are called “librettist”, are like scenarists; they have written stories for musical theater and have been inspired by great poets. “For example tonight at Damascus Opera House, I performed a poem by Victor Hugo “Si mes vers avaient des ailes” (If my verses had wings), when the French compositor Reynaldo Hahn liked the poem, he composed music for it!”

Regarding Stéphane Sénéchal, visit to Syria at such a dramatic time, he clarified that he previously visited Syria in 2014 for one day, but at that thought that Syria deserved a second extended visit. He also plainly expressed his fascination toward the Syrian civilization and people “You can’t walk 100 meter in Syria without observing the effects of previous civilization you are such a great nation that has effects all over the world. ”

Interview & report: Lama Alhassanieh