"Tornate all'antico e sarà una progresso"
Let us return to the past — that will be progress
~ Giuseppe Verdi
Ziazan was the last student of Rae Woodland, who shared a teacher with Kathleen Ferrier — the renowned Roy Henderson. Through Rae she was introduced to the ancient Italian school of singing, which was originally developed alongside the first operas, circa 1600. Sadly, the oral tradition which had preserved and passed on this school became less and less appreciated throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, in favour of new trends. As very likely its last exponent, Ziazan is devoted to restoring the tradition before it is lost to history.
For many years, she has been painstakingly reconstructing how it was taught and practiced in the past, working chronologically backwards from her teacher’s era. She was guided in her research by Edward V. Foreman. After many years work, she has progressed from the early 20th century to the late 18th century.
Her inductive, practice-based approach includes studying the early audio records of singers alongside the treatises of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and other written accounts of singing and teaching practices. She is grateful for having had the irreplaceable experience of receiving the foundations of the school first-hand, including those indescribable elements of singing which the writers of the past felt couldn’t be written down in a book. This has been essential to her success.
She continues to learn more every day about this great tradition, and hopes to inspire others to want to discover it, too. Her YouTube channel, Phantoms of the Opera, is dedicated to educating and raising interest in the ancient Italian school around the world.
Ziazan teaches, according to the traditional methods, students who are committed to the long process of mastering bel canto. See here for more information.
“Her work ... demonstrates the necessary combination of musicological rigor and facility in performance which is both desirable and rare”
Edward V. Foreman
“It’s really the sound from another era ... it’s beautiful, but it’s not something you hear from any singer now”
Sean Rafferty, BBC Radio 3
"I've never heard anything quite like it"
"You're fighting a losing battle"
Ziazan has an unusual voice, with a range encompassing both contralto and soprano.
She trained at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama (trumpet and piano) and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (historic voice) — she left the latter after a year in order to conduct her research independently.
She has worked as instrumentalist, singer, and actress in areas as diverse as: concerts and operas in RAH, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Snape Maltings; session work recording everything from folk to music theatre; festivals including Latitude, and Weekend at the Asylum in Lincoln, and lecture recitals in Handel & Hendrix, the Red House, and the first online symposium hosted by the 21st Century Music Practice Research Network.
She has discussed the bel canto tradition on LSO Soundhub on Resonance FM, and on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune with Sean Rafferty. She was honoured to contribute to BBC Radio 4’s obituary of Rae Woodland.
She is passionate about rediscovering unjustly forgotten works, but she is equally interested in developing a new style for modern music using the versatile bel canto technique. Her approach and unique sound have inspired and intrigued, among others, the composers Larry Goves, Anna Meredith, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Richard Bullen, and the late Barrington Pheloung.
The rôle of Ruby in Meredith’s first opera, Tarantula in Petrol Blue, premiered at Snape Maltings, was written specifically for her unusual range, as was the rôle of the Biologist/Enchantress in Horrocks-Hopayian’s first opera, 1000 Songs, premiered at Grimeborn Festival, for which Ziazan also wrote the libretto. In the world premiere recording of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s first opera, Jephta’s Gelübde, by Naxos, she created the rôle of Tirza. She recorded more works by Horrocks-Hopayian commissioned by the LSO on the album Welcome Party.
Ziazan suffers from hEDS (hypermobile-type Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), which affects every aspect of her life, and has prevented her from pursuing her performing career for a few years. She is committed to increasing awareness of this debilitating illness which is currently under-diagnosed, under-researched, little understood, and poorly supported. If you want to learn how to help in any way, please visit https://www.ehlers-danlos.org
Learn the old Italian method with Ziazan
Old school; new technology. 400 years of tradition online.
"The only proof of a method is the result, and this method has furnished the universe with stars." ~ Blanche Marchesi
Recording with the LSO chamber ensemble
Recording Meyerbeer's first opera
On Radio 3's 'In Tune'
The delayed recording of Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian's compositions inspired by the art of Khadambi Asalache, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, finally takes place in All Saint's Church, Tooting, on the first day out of lockdown
Ziazan creates the rôle of Tirza in the world premiere recording of Meyerbeer's forgotten first opera, 'Jephta's Gelübde', for Naxos, with the Sofia Philharmonic in Bulgaria Concert Hall
14th August, 2018
Ziazan chats with Sean Rafferty about her unusual voice, reconstructing bel canto, the upcoming premiere of '1000 Songs' at Grimeborn Festival, and sings songs from the 16th, 19th and 21st centuries, with lute, piano and electronics
I bought a haunted piano
A unique performance with a surprising history...
Ziazan's original research into the career of one of opera's most fascinating and controversial figures brings new perspective and insight to the mystery of Maria Callas.
Poem by Khadambi Asalache. Music and artwork by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian. Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra. Performed in LSO St Luke's 11 February 2017.