The time 9-year-old Amira Willighagen sang an unbelievable Nessun dorma to win Holland’s Got Talent

16 September 2020, 17:45

Amira Willighagen
Amira Willighagen. Picture: YouTube / Amira Willighagen

By Kyle Macdonald

Back 2013, talent show audiences were treated to a heart-pounding and tear-jerking moment, as a young girl rang out Puccini to claim a converted first prize. It’s doing the rounds again...

When we hear ‘Nessun dorma’, many of us probably think of the roaring high notes of Luciano Pavarotti, or impassioned, broad-chested heroes on an opera stage.

However, back in 2013, the world saw something very different, with Puccini’s great aria sung, in full voice, my a nine-year-old girl. That year, the operatic voice of a certain Amira Willighagen was the breakout star of Holland’s Got Talent.

Read more: Quarantined Italian tenor passionately sings ‘Nessun Dorma’ from his Florence balcony >

Amira Willighagen performs in 2014
Amira Willighagen performs in 2014. Picture: Getty

Willighagen wowed the audience and judges with her surprisingly sonorous and powerful voice. She went on to win the final of the TV talent show with Puccini’s belter of an aria.

Read more: 14 incredible classical performances on reality TV talent shows >

The youngster received over 50% of the television viewers' votes to win first place over the seven other contestants. Just listen to the crowd go wild.

We love her passion, her musicianship and her clear talent. Young singers taking on staples of adult repertoire is not entirely without controversy, however.

Three years after Willighagen, 14-year-old Laura Bretan sang similar operatic repertoire on America’s Got Talent. Her singing technique ‘raised deep concerns’ claimed one singing teacher at the time.

After her 2013 moment, Willighagen revealed she’s never had a singing lesson in her life – she was inspired to teach herself to compete with her brother. “My brother Vincent plays violin, and I also wanted to do something, so I thought, I'm going to sing. And then I heard opera songs, which I found very beautiful and that's when I started singing,” she said.

Watch her full performance above. What a lovely thing to relive. Willighagen is now aged 16 and has released three albums since her high-profile debut.