Soprano Sings in Honor of Her Father's Nobel Prize

Classic Arts News   Soprano Sings in Honor of Her Father's Nobel Prize
Last night's Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo was a starry affair: movie stars Sharon Stone and Angelica Huston hosted; Lionel Richie, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), country star Wynonna Judd, the group Simply Red, and soprano Ren_e Fleming were among the musicians on hand to salute the 2006 laureates, the Grameen Bank and its founder, Muhammad Yunus.

Most likely, though, the performer who delighted Yunus most was his own daughter, Monica, a 29-year-old soprano currently on the Metropolitan Opera roster.

"I am honored to be part of this very, very great day in my father's life," she told the Associated Press. "It has taken him 30 years to get the message across. I think he really just wants to realize the dream of putting poverty in the museum."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored Yunus and Grameen Bank for their work pioneering the practice of microcredit — lending small amounts of money to very poor people (usually women) to start small income-generating businesses in their communities. Yunus made his first loan, of $27 from his own pocket, to a group of about 40 craftsmen in a Bangladeshi village, telling them that they could pay him back when they could afford it. From those beginnings, Grameen Bank, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, now has about 7 million borrowers, with an average loan amount of slightly more than $100 — and the bank is profitable.

For her part, Monica must return directly to New York after the concert: she appears as Papagena in the Julie Taymor staging of The Magic Flute, which opens its run this season on Friday (December 15).

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