Friday, January 31, 2014

Amira Willighagen

Amira Willighagen, born March 27, 2004, from Nijmegen won Holland's Got Talent in December 2013 at 9 years old by singing opera with startling maturity. She's following in the footsteps of Jackie Evancho, the child prodigy who became famous as a 9-year-old opera singer in 2009. (h/t)

Amira Willighagen, age 9, singing Nessun Dorma:

Jackie Evancho's Nessun Dorma at age 11:

I prefer Amira's artistry over Jackie's, albeit Amira seems to emulate Jackie's style and mannerisms on stage, which may be due to the "master class" training that both have received. Jackie seems more like a conscientious by-the-numbers performer. She's more effortful in her singing. Amira is an intuitive performer with an exceptional feel for expression. Amira's singing is as strong as Jackie's but to my lay sensibility seems more natural and nuanced, and is easier to listen to. While both girls are extremely rare talents, it just seems to come more easily for Amira.

On stage, Amira is in her element, unflappable, eager, and in control. She appears immune to performance anxiety; instead, the audience seems to energize her. Amira is also the local long-distance running champion in her age group. If I recall correctly, Jackie is also a competitive athlete.

Besides performing, Jackie answered questions like a trained beauty pageant contestant when she was Amira's age, while Amira responds intuitively with unusual ease and confidence. I'm reluctant to say Amira at just 9 years old is perceptive, but she appears to instantly grasp what's happening around her.

Most striking about Amira's performance is the contrast in her switch from unaffected little girl, with her signature girlish hand wave, to calmly focused grown-up opera singer and instant switch back to unaffected little girl when the songs end, as though she channels the ghost of a soulful opera legend rather than sing the songs herself. Amira's eyes become older when she sings. I suspect the unaffected little girl demeanor is part of her act, but she is all of 9 and carries it convincingly.

I look forward to following Amira's career progress. It's hard to imagine she can become better than she is now, but Jackie, still only 13, has improved significantly since she became world-famous at the same age, so I expect Amira will improve, too. The challenge will be training Amira in the craft of singing without losing her intuitive feel and retaining her intuitive feel without limiting her craft.

Amazing. Kids, huh? When you got it, you got it. Good for her.



Anonymous Raquel Major said...

This is the kindest and most objective analysis I've seen so far of these two gifted young ladies. Thank you. You've articulated what I am hard-pressed to put into words.

5/12/2014 5:53 PM  
Blogger S.C Hello Kitty said...

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12/31/2014 1:41 AM  

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