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Albanian-American Opera Singer Performs in Washington

Albanian-American Soprano Brings Her Critically Acclaimed Madame Butterfly to Kennedy Center
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Albanian-American Soprano Brings Her Critically Acclaimed Madame Butterfly to Kennedy Center

Albanian-American Opera Singer Performs in Washington
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Albanian-American singer Ermonela Jaho will play the part of Madame Butterfly in the opera of the same name this month in Washington D.C.

Jaho has impressed people throughout Europe with her singing and acting abilities. She is becoming one of the opera world’s most popular soprano singers.

Jaho says she is successful because she puts a lot of emotion into her work. She says in the Albanian and Balkan traditions, joy and grief are openly displayed. She says she is “a citizen of the world but with an Albanian soul.”

She says she expresses many emotions when she sings and acts.

“I will try to give Ermonela’s soul everything, as I did it in other productions and I hope my heart, my feelings, the truth that I will give on stage, will resonate with the public here.”

Jaho decided to become an opera singer when she saw Giuseppe Verdi’s Traviata when she was a teenager. She wanted to play the part of Violetta, and she has made her dream come true. She has performed the role 240 times all over the world.

Although opera audiences are loyal, they are mostly older. Few young people like the opera. To get younger people to attend the opera or even become opera singers, one night of Madame Butterfly will be performed by young artists. Jaho recognizes this reality and has mixed feelings.

“It feels like you belong [to] another period. It feels a little -- I feel a little old if I have to think, you know, in that way, but I think the problem here is that now the life that we are living every day is going so fast, the technology and everything, and I think even the music maybe needs that kind of impact immediately, but in classic[al] music, opera, you need time. You need time to train yourself technically, to express...”

She says the hard work and the time she dedicates to becoming a good performer help her make good decisions in life. She says her decisions now are not rushed or impulsive. And she says the hard work has not changed the way she feels about opera.

“I am still in love with the opera, and I still feel like a young girl when I started to dream about that…”

Part of that dream is to bring new life to the fragility, strength and tragic end of Madame Butterfly.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA Correspondent Keida Kostreci reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted his reporting for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

soprano – adj. the highest female singing voice in formal singing

resonate – v. to continue to make a sound; to continue to have importance

impulsive – adj. something done suddenly -- without thought or planning

fragility – n. the state of being easily broken, or not strong