[The Guardian, 14 February 2006]
In the early months of 2004, the soprano Violeta Urmana was asked to stand as a presidential candidate in her native Lithuania. “The day they asked, I laughed so much,” she says, dissolving into a fit of giggles in her dressing room backstage at the Royal Opera House. “It was in a period when we had some problems.” The Lithuanian government was in the process of impeaching President Rolandas Paksas following allegations of links to organised crime. “I said, ‘Are you kidding? I don’t belong to a party, either social democrat or liberal.’ ‘Oh, that’s better,’ they said. ‘But what about my singing?’ ‘You can sing, probably one or two times a year.’ My husband couldn’t sleep at night – he thought I shouldn’t do it – but just for one day, I was thinking, ‘Oh, for Lithuania, maybe I should.'”
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