(K. Brent Tomer),
WHENEVER dictators stifle dissent, the art which most often survives is music. So it is no surprise that the soprano who earlier this month carried off the annual prize for the singer most esteemed by the readers of Opera Magazine, the industry’s bible, should have been born and bred in Enver Hoxha’s Albania. Ermonela Jaho recalls with affectionate amusement the paranoid, isolationist atmosphere in which she grew up: with one television channel and one state-approved comedian (Norman Wisdom, a Londoner); with baby boys being named Adriatik after the sea they had to cross to make their fortune; with hundreds of thousands of pill-box bomb-shelters studding the landscape; but also with a heady form of polyphony which has been sung at village weddings since antiquity.
Ms Jaho has great magnetism on stage, her singing complemented by a particular physical presence. When she sang the title role in Giacomo Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” at Covent Garden in 2011 she drew an ecstatic audience response every night; reviewing her reprise of the role in March, the critics ran out of…Continue reading