A little girl, who rose to the stage at the age of five, grew up on stage and developed and achieved her dream of becoming an artist.
Inva was born in Tirana into an artist family and her parents, Nina (from Russia) and Avni Mula (from Kosovo) are both famous artists in Albania. Inva Mula began by taking piano lessons, and she performed in her first concert at five years old. She received many awards and recognition from the public, and her songs, and interpretation, became famous for people of her generation.
In 1992 Inva moved to France, where she currently lives, and where she triumphed in 1993 participating in the “First Placido Domingo Competition” and from there began a close collaboration with the great Maestro. Following that, Inva started her international career at the Avignon Opera with La Traviata, Romeo and Juliet, and Un Ballo in Maschera. Inva was invited to the Los Angeles Opera for Don Pasquale, La Boheme, Le Nozze di Figaro and The Rondinne, then onto Bonn and Washington, and singing in Falstaff in Chicago, and La Boheme in New York.
Inva Mula is named as one of the great sopranos, for her current capacity to move from Italian Bel Canto roles to French heroines, who occupy a very important part her repertoire.
Her career continues with great success and intensity throughout this season at Staatsoper Vienna, and with her favourite role Manon, and Nedda “I Pagliacci” at the Deutsche Opera Berlin. Inva is absolutely a great role model, a DIVA migrant woman inspiring many other women around the world.
You left Albania at a very young age, meanwhile your family’s history also tells a story about migration. When you are asked where you are from, what is your answer?
This is a topic which requires an explanation and, most of all, an analysis. It is true that my family has known migration, starting with my father who at the age of two, together with his family, was forced to relocate from his birthplace of Gjakova (Kosovo) to Shkoder (Albania), against their will and they never returned. My father grew up in Shkoder at a time when that city was the cradle of culture in Albania. This had a fundamental impact on his formation as an artist.
My story is a love story too, for the love of art and to accomplish my dream …If they ask where I am from, of course my response is the most natural for me: I am Albanian.
My mother was born in the Urals, Russia. She went to study in the Moscow Conservatory, met my father there and decided to live in Albania forever. Her decision to emigrate was her wish, or to put it better, a beautiful love story which had its consequences too. She did not have permission to maintain contact with her family for thirty years, like many other foreign women married and living in Albania. But my story is completely different, a love story too, but mine is the love for art and to accomplish my dream, to be the artist that you recognise today. If they ask where I am from, of course my response is the most natural for me: I am Albanian.
You have had to travel often, live in many countries, make new friends and colleagues wherever you go, and change homes. Where do you feel most at home? Where in fact is your most comfortable home?
My years of wandering in migration are twenty two in total. That is a relatively long time and filled with many events, travels, and different experiences, all of which have made me grow and to see the world differently. I believe that all those who travel, like me, find it difficult to find their home. Personally, my home is neither in Tirana nor in Paris, but within me, in my ability to adapt anywhere and always feel good with my loved ones. A comfortable home is not made of the furniture or affection for tangible belongings, but the place where you have beautiful memories and the desire to return.
This is the philosophy that I had to foster and impose on myself as it is closely aligned with the nature of my profession, which involves endless and very long travels. Almost each month there is a new theatre in a new country. If my heart longed to return frequently to “my comfortable home”, I would not be able to find peace. Thus, I created it inside of me.
My family’s journey of migration continues with my son who was born and raised in Paris and “abandoned it” to study and live in London.
You are an ideal woman, an “idol” for many, and have accomplished a lot in life – do you feel fulfilled and complete?
I don’t know the definition of a fulfilled woman. I don’t know if there are names to define it. I think that we need to contribute to fulfil ourselves and this doesn’t come only from a successful career, although that plays an important part, but a good, positive energy which should never cease and helps one face the challenges of life.
The first day I arrived in Paris, I did not know anyone, did not speak French, did not have a roof over my head – yet I had a lot of dreams to achieve and those were the reason that made me overcome everything.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from being a migrant, always on the road with suitcases in your hands?
The first day I arrived in Paris was 13th January 1992. It was cold, I did not know anyone, did not speak French, did not have a roof over my head, did not have money etc. In that moment I thought it was pointless and better to go back home! Yet I had a lot of dreams to achieve and those were the reason that made me overcome everything and follow my path, which no one showed to me – I found it on my own. This was the best lesson I learned, to accomplish everything on my own. Another lesson learned and even more important, is “The heavy stone is in its place!”
You are an artist, mother of two, and wife of a philanthropist who contributes to various social projects – where does all of this positive energy come from?
Looking around me, I think life has spoilt me by giving me talent but, above all, two wonderful parents. Their love and kindness taught me how to share this positive energy with others which, instead of running out, grows and increases when you share it with others. That starts with my children and husband, and then my relatives, friends and even those you do not know but need you.
You are the daughter of two great artists – what impact has your parents had in your life?
My parents are my foundation and I wish everyone such a healthy childhood. Mine was filled with a lot of love, nurture, tolerance, respect and all of these factors created a good climate to raise a “tree with good fruits”. I say this to remind anyone who is a parent to give to their child, especially to give their children much love, which is most important for a child.
With my husband, Hetem, I learned to know myself better and continue searching within me.
What difference has being with a man like Hetem Ramadani brought into your life, a spiritual man known for his humanism and philanthropy?
I can divide my life into two important phases, the one before and the one after meeting Hetem Ramadani! Meeting Hetem has given me new dimensions in my personal life, most of all in the spiritual one. With Hetem I learned to know myself better and continue searching within me.
When you know yourself, you know others too and when you improve yourself you are valuable to society as well. To look after your health and contribute to the awareness of others, we hold in our hands the ability to have a quality life, which is not enabled through financial circumstances but the quest to look after yourself, to have knowledge on the food you eat with the motto “you are what you eat”. And it is to help strangers while never expecting anything in return but to hope that gratitude exists in our universe and it is rewarded in other forms. I learned this philosophy and many other things through Hetem as he embodies kindness, enormous generosity, intelligence, wisdom, thirst for knowledge, and lives every day as if it were the last!
What is the secret to your beauty and youth? Is it genetic or a merit (or credit) of looking after yourself?
I can’t say I don’t look after myself. I think when you look after yourself you respect others as well, but it is not my main priority in life. For instance, everyday I tell myself to start going to the gym and I have not started the first session yet, although those who don’t know me tend to ask me: “How many hours a day do you exercise?” I don’t have an answer for the gym but there is not a single day that I don’t go out for long walks and I think walking is the best and most useful sport for your body and mind.
What would be your advice to migrant women who are passionate about art but, due to circumstances, have lost their hopes?
I think we must never abandon our dreams despite our circumstances. Their accomplishment is what gives us hope for tomorrow and that is not affected by being in migration but only by our will, desire and courage.
You are preparing for a big concert in London in November – can you tell us more about this event?
With regards to my experience in London, it is the interpretation of Violeta in La Traviata at Royal Opera House with a wonderful audience that has given me a standing ovation every night after the performance.
The concert on 26th November will be a beautiful experience, thanks to the initiative of the Albanian Embassy in London and most of all, the creator and organiser of ‘Notes on Albania’, the Ambassador Mr. Mal Berisha. Together with the brilliant pianist Genc Tukici, our aim is to not only perform in front of the audience in London with the most selected classical repertoire, but also introduce the folk and traditional music of our country and to give art lovers the real essence of the beautiful Albanian music which is little known in the world. As artists, it is our duty to promote it and make Albania sound beautiful.
You are active all the time with plenty of artistic events – what are your ambitions for the future?
After all of these years with a very intensive agenda, not forgetting I am mother to two wonderful children, I would like to slow down the activities or turn it into an activity that would give me more personal satisfaction. I see myself more in everything related to creativity, no longer as a performer of art but as a creator of it. I don’t know yet in what sense and shall leave this to the future to discover it.
Photo credits: Fadil Berisha