Lithuanians in the News
24th December, 2006
A Triumph for Lithuanian Diva Violeta Urmana
Violeta Urmana as Aida.
Photo courtesy "Lietuvos Rytas"
The renowned Lithuanian soprano Violeta Urmanavičiűtë (Urmana) made a triumphant return to the "La Scala" opera house in Milan, Italy, to sing the leading role in Verdi’s "Aida". It was a rare distinction for Violeta Urmana to be invited to perform on the occasion of the reopening to "La Scala" after an extensive refurbishment, which cost millions and took 14 years amid much controversy. The reopening of "La Scala", which was originally founded by the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa two centuries ago, was one of this year’s cultural highlights.
It is the first time ever in the history of "La Scala" that the leading role in a premiere of "Aida" has been entrusted to
Violeta Urmana and Roberto Alagna after the premiere.
Photo courtesy "Lietuvos Rytas"
a non-Italian. This distinction bestowed on Urmana was not achieved even by the legendary soprano Maria Callas. This year has been a very busy year for Violeta Urmana, with "Aida" the fourth premiere for her this year. What is remarkable is that after already achieving eminence as a mezzo-soprano, she has now changed to a soprano, with critics declaring that she has now found her true voice.
After the premiere an enthusiastic audience continued with the applause for a full quarter of an hour. The lavish production of "Aida" was directed by the famous Italian director Franco Zefirelli and the conductor was Riccardo Chailly. In the audience were many distinguished personages, including Italy’s Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. Even with tickets costing 2,000 euros and more, all the seats were sold out.
But "Aida’s" premiere did not pass without controversy. On the second night, the tenor in the role of Radames, the Frenchman Roberto Alagna, did not take kindly to ‘boos’ from the audience and walked off stage. His role was quickly taken by his understudy Antonelli Palombi, still dressed in jeans and a black shirt! Urmana had been waiting in the wings for her cue, when all this happened, and then continued with her role unnerved, but unfazed.

Further information: Lietuvos Rytas www.lrytas.lt 9,16/12/06   The Sydney Morning Herald, www.smh.com.au 13/12/06