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Inva Mula-Tchako

  • Soprano


Soprano Inva Mulla-Tchako has a notable international career, though she is best known to the world at large for one of the strangest operatic portrayals in film history. The singer (whose name is rendered by various sources as Inva Mula Tchako, Inva Mulla Tchako, Inva Mulla-Tchako, and simply Inva Mula) studied (singing and piano) in her native city of Tirana, Albania. In 1987, she won the first prize in the Singer of Albania competition. After the fall of the Stalinist government of Albania, she was able to travel to Bucharest in September 1991, where she was a prizewinner in the George Enescu Competition. She won The Grand Prix Madama Butterfly in Barcelona in 1992, and a leading prize in the first Plácido Domingo International Voice Competition in May 1993. This led to her singing with the famous tenor in a concert at the Opéra-Garnier in Paris, an event recorded on the Sony Classics label and released under the title The First Plácido Domingo International Voice Competition Gala Concert on which she sang Qui la voce sua soave from Bellini's I Puritani, and duets from L'elisir d'amore, Don Giovanni, and La Traviata.
Mulla-Tchako and Domingo repeated the program in Brussels, Munich, and Oslo. All this attention led to invitations to perform throughout Europe and elsewhere. She won widespread acclaim for stunning vocal purity and a secure, polished technique, and musical projection of a sustained line. She is a lyric soprano with strong abilities in bel canto and coloratura parts, and is particularly valued for her performances in Mozart. Her range is wide enough that she also sings the lighter Verdi roles, such as Nanetta in Falstaff and Gilda in Rigoletto, but also Violetta in La Traviata. Other roles in her repertory are Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann; Micaela in Carmen; Tanit Zerga in Falla's L'Atlantide; both Musetta and Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème; Nedda in Pagliacci; Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia; Norina in Don Pasquale; and Leila in Bizet's Les Pecheurs des Perles.

But the part that made her a cult name, outside the circle of opera fans, was her voicing of the role of The Diva in Jean-Luc Besson's film The Fifth Element. She sang an aria from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (straight) and The Diva Dance (with, presumably, electronic assists on humanly impossible high notes); her singing was mimed on stage by French actress Maïwenn Le Besco as Diva Plavalaguna, a very tall, blue space alien with eight tentacles. Inva's career has continued since then, with appearances in several opera houses in Europe (including La Scala in Milan, the Ravenna Festival, the Verona Arena and Theater, Marseilles, Paris National Opera, Montpellier, and the Vienna State Opera), in Turkey, and in the United States at the Chicago Lyric Opera, and the Los Angeles Opera. The latter has invited her back on several occasions. She sang the role of Lisette in Puccini's La rondine with Antonio Pappano conducting, an EMI release that won The Gramophone Award as Record of the Year, 1997. She makes her home, and bases her career, in Paris.