International singers compete in Marie Kraja opera festival

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 4, 2016 09:53

International singers compete in Marie Kraja opera festival

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  • "It's an event I have been following since its beginnings. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that this is the only event of this kind in Albania which gives us artistic dignity. It's a festival that hosts international artists to gain experience in Tirana," says Inva Mula, the 53-year-old soprano who has performed in some of the world's best Opera Houses, including Paris, Milan and provided the voice of the 'Diva' alien in “The Fifth Element” Hollywood movie

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TIRANA, Nov. 3 – Sixteen European singers are competing in the sixteenth edition of Marie Kraja festival, Albania’s sole international operatic festival, which is continuing its tradition even this year under the lead of Inva Mula, Albania’s internationally renowned soprano, who has taken over as the festival’s producer after its founder Zana Çela was appointed as Opera House director earlier this year.

Opera singers from France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Slovakia, Georgia and Albania will be competing for three days at Tirana’s Opera House from Nov. 3 to 5 for the Marie Kraja award, named after one of Albania’s most famous opera singers.

“It’s an event I have been following since its beginnings. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that this is the only event of this kind in Albania which gives us artistic dignity. It’s a festival that hosts international artists to gain experience in Tirana,” says Inva Mula, the 53-year-old soprano who has performed in some of the world’s best Opera Houses, including Paris, Milan and provided the voice of the ‘Diva’ alien in “The Fifth Element” Hollywood movie.

A special award in this year’s edition will be dedicated to Nina Mula, Inva Mula’s mother, a late Russian-Albanian soprano who moved to Albania in the late 1950s after marrying Albanian composer Avni Mula.

“We thought of dedicating this award to my mother because she was a professor and mother to all students and even taught me,” says Inva Mula.

Twenty-five year Albanian soprano Enkeleda Kamana, last year’s winner of the Marie Kraja festival, is replacing Zana Çela, as the festival’s host.

“For 16 years, the International Festival of Operatic Singers ‘Marie Kraja’ has indicated that it represents not only a culmination in the Albanian cultural life, but is also considered an institution which is able to speak beyond the Albanian borders in a way that even a political program cannot do,” says Çela, the festival’s producer and host until 2015, who this year is part of international jury, headed by Eva Kleinitz, the German Director of Opera Stuttgart and President of Opera Europa.

The festival is named after Marie Kraja, one of Albania’s most famous opera singers. The late Austria-educated Albania soprano gave concerts and recitals throughout Europe before returning after World War II to Albania, where she taught singing and sang at the Opera House in Tirana. She was the lead performer in “Mrika,” the first opera by an Albanian composer, staged in 1959.

Established in 1999 soon after Marie Kraja passed away at the age of 88, the festival was initially held as a national competition, before becoming Albania’s sole internationally renowned operatic festival in the next few editions.

The careers of several young performers including Albanian tenor Josif Gjipali, soprano Evis Mula, Belgium’s Micheal Fisch and Turkey’s Perihan Diana Nayir have kicked off at the Marie Kraja festival.

In 2009, young Albanian soprano Evis Mula managed to sign a two-year contract with La Scala, Milan’s world famous Opera House, after winning the Marie Kraja festival.

The festival’s jury is composed of some of the most prestigious directors of European and American opera houses.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 4, 2016 09:53