Mezzo from Gabon gets major agency deal

Mezzo from Gabon gets major agency deal


norman lebrecht

November 15, 2020

AskonasHolt have signed mezzo-soprano Adriana Bignagni Lesca from Gabon, on the west coast of central Africa.

She talks here about her beginnings:

When I was 14 I joined the largest choir in Gabon; a year later, I started piano lessons with the late Pépé Abate. It wasn’t until after leaving my native land to study in France that I discovered opera for the first time in my life. At first, I auditioned to study piano, and then started to study singing in the vocal department at the Bordeaux conservatoire. I did two years of bel canto training in order to immerse myself in a culture that was entirely alien to me.

The fact that I had come to study piano but was offered a place as a singer makes me laugh – at the time I was actually afraid of this way of singing as it was such a foreign concept to me! When I think about it today, it was my innate curiosity to try new things which spurred me on to discover more about my voice, and through this, about myself.

During my studies I sang in the chorus at the Opera national de Bordeaux. Donizetti’s Anna Bolena was my first opera with them, and then Otello – something that shocked me at the time was that the face of the singer performing Otello was painted black. This was my first brush with this kind of racism and I found it disturbing.


  • Peter says:

    Tired of all this nonsense today with many being shocked to see a black Otello or whatever face covered in make up. It’s opera, you get to play the part, it’s called stage make-up!
    Let’s see how shocked or disturbed she would feel herself portraying historical white figures, according to her she should stick only to the roles suitable for her ethnicity… nobody should think like that, it’s stupid!

    • Adrienne says:

      No doubt an Otello from Gabon would be acceptable to her.

      You’re right, and white people need to stop patronising black people by allowing this nonsense to continue. It doesn’t benefit anybody.

  • Jeremy Higgins says:

    If reports on SD are correct, then companies like Askonas have reduced their staff numbers considerably, yet as far as we know, have not reduced their artist list. How are they serving these artists properly, let alone think they can sign up more?
    Madness? Arrogance? A combination of both??