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Baku Declares Renowned Opera Star ‘Persona Non-Grata’

Baku Declares Renowned Opera Star ‘Persona Non-Grata’
Soprano Montserrat Caballe at Gandzasar with Artsakh Primate Arch. Parkev Martirossian
Soprano Montserrat Caballe at Gandzasar with Artsakh Primate Arch. Parkev Martirossian

STEPANEKERT, BAKU—As world-renowned opera star from Spain soprano Montserrat Caballe performed Groung by Komitas at the Gandzasar monastery in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, she was being declared persona non grata by Baku for her visit to Artsakh.

The Azerbaijani Embassy in Spain announced to journalists on June 6 that a special note had been sent to the Spanish Foreign Ministry demanding an explanations.

According to Azerbaijani officials, Caballe’s managers were warned about the possible consequences of her visit to what was termed “Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.”

Caballé described Artsakh as a “cradle of Christianity.” “The most important is that this cradle of Christianity has been maintained in the region. This is the greatest impression from my visit,” Montserrat Caballé said, speaking on Artsakh Public TV.

After her performance Caballé told Artsakh State TV that she admires the harmony of Armenian music and Armenian architecture. She was inspired by the stories told by the Primate of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

“This is a very important moment, because it’s a great blessing to be in this island of Christianity. Christianity sits very deep in my soul. All this is like a miracle,” she said, confessing that she had similar emotions in Israel and Vatican.

Montserrat Caballé was in Artsakh for a private visit. She visited Stepanakert, Gandzasar, Shushi and had a meeting with Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian.

President Sahakian said that she had a great number of admirers in the republic and underlined that cooperation with famous artists would greatly contribute to the development of culture in Artsakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Culture Minister Narine Aghabalyan said the private visit will be followed by practical steps. There are plans to organize master classes next time, she said.

“Montserrat Caballé’s visit to Nagorno Karabakh was a great honor and great joy to us. I’m confident it will have an influence on both the development of culture in Nagorno Karabakh and the recognition of Arsakh,” she added.

Visiting Armenia and Arsakh had always been a dream for the great soprano, and she did it despite illness, long distance and other obstacles.

Astronomer Garik Israelyn, who organized the visit, considers that the discovery of Artsakh by world-famous people is a unique path towards its international recognition.

“This will pave the way for the visits of other singers, scientists and other famous individuals,” he said.

The world-famous soprano will take souvenirs from Artsakh – an Armenian cross presented by President Bako Sahakian and blessed in Gandzasar – and a hand-made angel prepared by a child – a symbol of pure love.

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