NEW YORK: Performing Puccini to a rapt New York audience, her soprano voice soaring to the rafters, Lubana al-Quntar may be the last person most Americans would think to be a Syrian refugee.
But half-an-hour´s drive from Donald Trump´s campaign headquarters, she and dozens of other classically trained refugees gave a special concert at the close of World Refugee Day to highlight the cultural contributions made by those who have fled war and persecution abroad.
Just days after the billionaire presidential candidate repeated his call to stop Syrian refugees entering America, Quntar had the audience spellbound even if many of the church pews were empty.
She sang the aria “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” from the opera “Manon Lescaut,” accompanied by an orchestra of refugee American musicians, followed by a haunting Syrian song called “Ya Ghazali.”
“This time I feel every word that I sing abandoned and alone. It´s so incredible,” she said before the concert in a Brooklyn church held to raise money and awareness for refugee causes.
“It´s great to let the whole world see what refugees look like. They have a dream, they have talent,” she added, the picture of glamour with coiffed hair before changing into a plunging evening gown.
Quntar has been in the United States for five years after leaving Syria five months into its conflict. She lives in Washington D.C, where she would return by a grueling five-hour bus journey after the concert.
She comes from Suwayda, the Druze stronghold south of Damascus, where Quntar says her soul remains.
Even for a professional musician who studied in Europe and performed abroad before the war, it has been tough adapting to a new life.
“I had to start life from a zero point,” she said. “It´s a constant struggle, like every day, especially my heart and my mind are always with my family and my people.”
The United Nations said Monday that the number of people fleeing their homes has spiked to 65 million in the worst refugee crisis since World War II, led by Syrians, Afghans and Palestinians.
Courtesy : TheNews