The Unbeatable Voice of Georgian Opera Singer Eteri Lamoris Chkonia

Excluxive interview

Celebrated Georgian opera singer Eteri Lamoris Chkonia has been coined by music critiques as the 21st century’s Violetta and a Pearl of Opera for her amazing performance in La traviata. At the age of 23 she was acclaimed as “one of the best voices” in the Operalia World Opera Contest (1994), where she also earned a special award: the Public Prize of Vienna, together with tenor Jose Cura. Eteri Lamoris is laureate of nine international competitions, in five of which she was awarded the first prize. Eteri has performed in many prestigious concert halls, including Carnegie Hall in New York, and famous opera theaters of Vienna, Madrid, Bonn, Naples, Verona, Parma, Washington and Los Angeles. Some years ago, the Princess of Sweden gifted her a golden merit as The Greatest Singer of our Time. After her international breakthrough in the role of Musetta in Franco Zeffirelli's La Scala production of La Boheme, she performed in the following operas and theaters: Teatro Di San Carlo Di Napoli - La Boheme (Musetta); in the same role with Luciano Pavarotti and Mirella Freni at the Teatro Regio Torino; Oper Der Stadt Bonn - Romeo et Juliette (title role) produced by Giancarlo Del Monaco; Washington Opera - Romeo et Juliette (title role), I Puritani (Elvira) and in a production of Teatro Alla Scala, Milan - I Pagliacci with Placido Domingo, directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Currently, the singer is based in Spain.

You have collaborated with many artists and have been personally acquainted with international high officials. Tell us more

Traditionally, my family has always been close to the high officials of their time, yet my family never sought it. My grandfather Akaki Chkonia, who was a famous publicist and Head of the Tbilisi Opera Theater, personally knew Stalin. Joseph Stalin respected and liked him to such an extent that he even wanted to promote him in Moscow, yet later he was executed on Beria’s order. As for me, I’ve had friendly relations with princesses and princes of Austria, Sweden and Spain, as well as become relatives with the former chancellor of Austria, Franz Vranitsky. I know Hillary and Bill Clinton personally, as well as Helmut Kohl, the German statesman who served as Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998.

What are the difficulties of working in the world of opera?

Today’s world of art is very commercialized. It can be felt that PR dominates over real art, and artists and managers are mostly career-oriented. Corruption is also a common thing. Very often, one can hardly find art in today’s contemporary music. This is why artists and musicians feel empty inside. As for opera, it has an advantage over other fields of arts, since you constantly stay in touch with high quality art, enabling you to develop when you are not only focused on your career. Personally, I have always struggled with myself to overcome this feeling and not to lose the passion for music.

We Georgians have to overcome many difficulties before we firmly establish ourselves and reach international success in our careers. Even if you are better than others and have proved your superiority many times, you still have to prove that you are good at your job. If you don’t surpass many foreign colleagues or singers, then you won’t be able to stand out and eventually succeed. Yet, it does not matter how successful you are abroad, you still feel like a guest. So, it is not Georgian artists’ fault that they are obliged to leave their country. In the past, classic music in Georgia had a real audience. Now, at a performance one might come across only elderly people or perons who just want to show off. I want my future performances in Georgia to serve important missions, such as charity purposes. My sister Nato and I established a summer academy in Austria: Nato is the president and I am the principal. We organize festivals and bring together people from different countries. Many Georgian performers come and take part. We organize international competitions, concerts and workshops together with invited famous stars. We try to help Georgia by promoting Georgian artists abroad as well as handing out prizes and scholarships.

Lika Chigladze

05 April 2018 17:55