Marie-Joe Abi-Nassif has taken an unbeaten path — her journey is one of passion between the contrasting worlds of law and opera.
After completing an LL.M. (Master of Laws) at 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 offered to take her under her wings. Despite her demanding workload and around-the-clock schedule as an attorney, Marie-Joe seized on this unique opportunity. She now devotedly travels to West Palm Beach - Florida, where Zeani resides, to study vocal technique, roles, and musical interpretation.
Born in war-torn Beirut, where bombs silenced artistic aspirations, Marie-Joe first experienced the stage as a soloist at age eight, after the choir conductor spotted her precociously formed timber and colorful voice. She subsequently enrolled in the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music where she studied the piano for seven years, in addition to solfeggio and music theory.
When still an undergraduate law student, Marie-Joe was invited to perform several concerts in Lebanon and overseas, and was also part of the Notre Dame University Choir. Marie-Joe next moved to Paris. In parallel to pursuing her Master’s in Corporate Law at Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas, she studied with international soprano Mihaela Mingheras, developing her singing technique and repertoire. She was also trained by pianist and voice coach Denis Dubois (Opéra National de Paris), with whom she continues to work.
In 2012, Marie-Joe moved to New York. While working full-time at Latham & Watkins LLP, she pursued her musical training at the Juilliard School, as part of the institution’s evening division. During this period, she travelled to Lebanon to perform Le Nozze di Figaro, in which she sang the role of Cherubino. She was also invited to participate in recitals in France, Lebanon, and the US.
While under the tutelage of Zeani, Marie-Joe has had the opportunity to work with prominent artists and coaches, including Nana Morimoto Valpa (Palm Beach Opera), Thomas Bagwell (Metropolitan Opera), Deborah Birnbaum (Metropolitan Opera), and Anastasia Dedik. 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), and Stephano (Roméo et Juliette).
Marie-Joe made her Carnegie Hall - Weill recital Hall debut in December 2016.
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