Marie-Joe Abi-Nassif, Mezzo-Soprano, has taken an unbeaten path — her journey is one of passion between the contrasting worlds of opera and law.
After graduating from Columbia Law School, she joined the leading international law firm of Latham & Watkins LLP in New York. Yet, determined to take a leap in her musical education, she sought counsel from the legendary soprano Virginia Zeani. Upon hearing her voice, Zeani urged her to pursue a career in opera and took her under her wing. Undeterred by her around-the-clock schedule as a lawyer, Marie-Joe seized on this unique opportunity. She devotedly traveled to Florida, where Zeani resides, to study roles and vocal technique.
While under the mentorship of Zeani, Marie-Joe has also been trained by prominent artists and coaches, including Thomas Bagwell (Royal Danish Opera), Gianluca Marcianò (Serbian National Theatre), Deborah Birnbaum (Metropolitan Opera), Francesca Pedaci (Bologna Conservatory) Nana Morimoto (Palm Beach Opera) and Myra Cordell. Her repertoire includes: Carmen (Carmen), Dorabella (Così fan Tutte), Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), Charlotte (Werther), Romeo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Mignon (Mignon), Stephano (Roméo et Juliette) and Erika (Vanessa).
Born in war-torn Beirut, where bombs silenced artistic aspirations, Marie-Joe enrolled in the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music where she studied the piano for seven years, in addition to solfeggio and music theory. She then moved to Paris where, in parallel to pursuing her Master’s in Corporate Law at the prestigious Université Panthéon-Assas, she was trained by maestro Denis Dubois (Opéra National de Paris), with whom she continues to work.
Marie-Joe next moved to New York. While working full-time at Latham & Watkins LLP, she was admitted to the evening division at the Juilliard School, where she pursued courses in opera performance, solfeggio, music theory, and musicianship. During this time, she travelled to Beirut to perform the role of Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro in collaboration with the Teatro Communale di Sassari.
In December 2016, Marie-Joe made her Carnegie Hall debut in a solo recital, accompanied by Thomas Bagwell. Eager to devote herself fully to her opera career, she bid farewell to the legal practice. As she embarked on her new beginning, she was invited, upon the recommendation of the Presidency of the French Republic, to perform during the annual celebration of France’s national day. In November 2018, Marie-Joe performed a solo recital at the Salle Cortot in Paris. She also participated in concerts at the Varna State Opera (Bulgaria) and the Bulgarian National Radio under the baton of Nicoletta Conti. In December 2018, she was invited to the Lebanese Presidential Palace to perform with the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra. In February 2019, she performed the role of Zelatrice in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with the New York Lyric Opera. In October 2019, Marie-Joe was selected by UNESCO to perform in a concert honoring the late Charles Aznavour at the UNESCO Palace (Paris). She is scheduled to perform the role of Dorothée in Cendrillon at the Miami Music Festival in June 2020, and the roles of Ježibaba in Rusalka and Cecilia March in Little Women at the Trentino Music Festival in August 2020.
Her upcoming performance [at Carnegie Hall - Weill Recital Hall] is a testament to Abi-Nassif’s dedication to the mastery of musical artistry, which, in her case, needed to be honed and crafted while living the 24-hour work life of most Big Law associates. ”
[...] a Biglaw attorney who managed to dream the impossible dream [...] ”
Above the Law