Ayana is a prominent Mongolian opera singer in Italy. She has performed in major theaters of Mongolia and in Italy, interpreting classical works from Rossini to Mozart. She lives near Rome with her husband and daughter.
“I began studying music when I was six years old. My grandfather, Zandraa Tseveenii, was the very first professional cinematographer and cinema script writer in Mongolia. He was also a writer and an important person in the cultural life of Mongolia. I inherited the passion for art and culture from him. I graduated from University, and little by little, I started singing professionally. But I wanted to develop myself, I wanted to do more.
In 2003 I was selected to participate in an international opera contest in Greece. There I met maestro Montarsolo who was the president of the international opera competition. He told me “you have a good voice” and asked “do you want to come to Rome to study?” and that was it. On the same day I called my grandparents from Greece and told them I’m going to Italy. That was the decision that changed my life.
For me, being in a new place with new people was not a shock. My mother was the leading scientist supporting the first space exploration project run by the Science Academy of Mongolia and she constantly travelled, bringing things home from abroad and hosting people from different countries in our house.
Still, the first three years in Italy were very difficult for me. Everywhere I went people said “wow, you’re from Mongolia! I have never seen a Mongolian like you.” Some people reacted very badly, and there were some insults. People expect a stereotype. They have an image of the steppe and nomadic people, and I didn’t fit the stereotype.
At the beginning language was a necessity, and then it became a passion. Language opens many doors, and helps people feel comfortable with you. With language, you can help them understand who you are. I speak Russian, Italian, English and Mongolian. What I add to the opera scene here is that I speak many languages and can be the bridge between worlds.
I really wish that people know that Mongolia has many faces. Mongolian people are tranquil, peaceful and tolerant. People are educated and have vision of the world, I am a world citizen. My grandmother was Russian, I was born in Mongolia, and now I live in Italy. My daughter has Italian, Mongolian, Russian and Buryat roots. Mongolia will always be home - I was born there. I miss the Mongolian yougurt, that I could not find here, and the wide spaces. But in Italy I am home because it has given so much to me, I have my family and my daughter here.”
Together with the International Opera Studio, Ayana organizes courses on classic and modern opera for young professionals. This year, with the support of the Embassy of Mongolia in Italy, she invited three Mongolian artists to perform Rossini’s Cenerentola in Italy. Ayana featured in an Italian television program, at the foot of Kilimanjaro as a representative of Mongolian culture in Italy. She authored a short story in a collection of novels, The Novel of the World and contributes to the Mongolia.it site, a Facebook page and a blog to help portray a more truthful image of Mongolia.