An Albanian opera superstar showed us around his country – and sang among the ruins of a mountain fortress
By Tim Edwards,
Saimir Pirgu took time out from his world tour to show us some Albanian hospitality.
Until the 1990s it was a Communist state almost as isolated as North Korea – with a tragic history of oppression to match. This is a country where, for a time, the only ballet allowed to be performed was ballet composed there.
But Albania, with a population of just 2.7m people, has more than its fair share of brilliant opera singers. There's Ermonela Jaho, for example, and Inva Mula, who provided the voice of the alien ‘Diva’ inThe Fifth Element .
We went to Albania to meet another great opera singer, Saimir Pirgu, who has performed at all the prestigious musical institutions, including the Royal Opera House, the Scala, New York Met and Vienna State Opera. If you haven’t heard of him yet, then you can thank us later. Suffice to say, he is BIG in Albania:
Saimir was in the Albanian capital Tirana on the latest leg of his world tour, but he took some time out to perform various charitable acts such as donating money to the children’s hospital and showing Classic FM the sights.