Hadas Faran-Asia did not hang around too long before trying out her vocal chords to a wider audience than her bathroom mirror.
“I have been singing from a very young age,” says the 34-year-old soprano who takes on a starring role in Handel’s stirring work Israel in Egypt, which will be performed at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on May 8 and at the Jerusalem Theater on May 10 (8 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively). Celebrated British conductor Andrew Parrott will lead the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra on historical instruments, along with the Israel Vocal Ensemble. The other soloists include countertenor Alon Harrari, tenor David Nortman and bass Yoav Weiss.
Faran-Asia’s early start to her performing career may also have had something to do with parental guidance. Her first stage experience came with the Moran Choir conducted by her mother, Naomi Faran.
“I started singing with the Moran Choir when I was seven, but I attended rehearsals from the age of three and I got involved in all the activities of my mother’s choir,” she says the singer, who is herself the mother of two.
It soon became clear that the youngster was not just in the choir by virtue of familial connections and that she really did have a special talent.
“I started singing as a soloist pretty quickly, I think from the age of 12,” recalls Faran-Asia. “I sang compositions by Menachem Wiesenberg and works by Zvi Avni.
I sang solos from the age of 12 at pretty prestigious venues in Israel and around the world.”
Her orchestral debut came at 19 at the Jerusalem Theater with the Haifa Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Stanly Sperber. She seemed to be set for a glorious career as an internationally acclaimed vocalist.
Even so, despite being quite the seasoned performer, it took a while for her to be fully convinced that music was the way to go.
“I actually only started studying at age 25, and I decided that this was what I wanted to do with my life in the first year of my degree,” she notes.
There are wunderkinds, such as violinist Yitzhak Perlman, who, once discovered, went with their brilliant incipient musical flow. Mozart didn’t do too badly either, after starting his composing career at age five. But after successfully treading her early musical path, Faran-Asia suddenly had second thoughts about the artistic direction it was logically assumed she would maintain into adulthood.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to do music as an adult,” she explains.
“It took me a while to come to that decision.”
Faran-Asia didn’t exactly sitting around twiddling her thumbs waiting for a career choice to transpire.
“I studied acting and I studied photography. I traveled around the world for a year and a half, and I lived in New York for six months. I did all sorts of things,” she recalls.
It was while spending some time in surroundings with which many young Israelis are familiar that Faran-Asia’s future became clearer.
“The penny dropped while I was in India, that there was no escaping it – that I was destined to be a singer. The business of deliberating over my future and not automatically going into music was a sort of late teenage rebellion,” she says.
Then again, many aspects of Faran-Asia’s non-musical exploits during the furlough did come in handy when she eventually settled on her current line of work.
“I studied acting for a year at Bikurei Ha’itim [Multidisciplinary Performing Arts Center in Tel Aviv], and I put on a monologue there every six months. It was great.”
Thespian abilities are, of course, crucial for opera singers, and Faran-Asia upped her acting ante when she subsequently attended the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music of the University of Tel Aviv.
“I also studied acting during my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but that was directly connected to music. I am a good combination [of singing and acting skills],” she says.
The singer says that her shotsnapping pursuits also leave their imprint on what she does for a living today.
“As a child, I had a wild dream of being a National Geographic photographer and traveling the world taking amazing pictures. I always had a good camera from the age of 13, and I was always documenting different events in my life,” she recounts.
That came into Faran-Asia’s exploratory career forays.
“I studied at [Tel Aviv photography school] Camera Obscura for half a year, but then I realized that I was not going to be a professional photographer,” she says.
The majority of students come to their academic studies fresh out of the army or straight after high school, with little in the way of street-level experience, but Faran- Asia not only began her degree at a relatively late age, but she had also accrued a bulging professional portfolio and brought street cred to the classroom. Even so, she found she had a lot to learn from her cloistered milieu.
“Yes, I had lots of experience, and the academy introduced me to a lot of new areas,” she notes.
“In the academy, I was totally myself, on my own. I was a student, whereas before that I was part of an ensemble or had a choir behind me as a soloist. That was the main innovation as far as I was concerned.”
There was another important difference between Faran-Asia and most of her classmates, which had a telling effect on her career path.
“My son was born while I was a student, so I didn’t follow the normal course of trying out at one of the local opera studios or somewhere in Europe or the United States. I stayed in Israel and carried on to a master’s degree and developed my career here. I am not sorry about that at all,” she asserts.
The proof of Faran-Asia’s professional pudding is here to be heard and enjoyed, and she is excited about her upcoming role in Israel in Egypt.
“I have done quite a few works by Handel, and I reached the semifinal in a Handel competition in London, but this is the first time I will be singing in this work. I am having a wonderful time preparing for it, and I am part of the choir, too, so I am very involved with the whole production. This is a great work. It has all of Handel’s touches – dramatic parts and very intimate sections. For me, this is one of his great works,” she says.
For tickets and more information: (02) 560-5755; *3221; 072-275- 3221; www.bravo.jbo.co.il or www.jerusalem-theatre.co.il
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