By Hanna Rantala
Grammy-award winning singer Albita Rodriguez is such a celebrated interpreter of Cuban music that when a new version of the opera Carmen was produced set in revolutionary Havana a role was created especially for her.
Albita plays Senora in Carmen La Cubana, a production of Georges Bizet's 19th century opera playing in London this month as part of a world tour that started in Paris in 2016.
"It is very touching and very exciting and I also feel a great responsibility, I somewhat carry the story. I am telling the story and recreating it," she told Reuters about her part.
"There is mambo, chachacha, guajira, danzon, Afro-Cuban santería music. It (the opera) goes through almost all the genres of Cuban music and the truth is that it’s a wonderful job, she said.
Carmen is just the latest act in a distinguished career. Rodriguez, known as Albita, was born in Havana in 1962 to parents who were popular Cuban folk singers. She gained fame in Cuba but her career exploded when she arrived in Miami in 1993.
"I left because I am against ... the communist dictatorship in Cuba .... But I believe a lot in Cuban culture, since I was a child .... I believe in music and I have invested in it because I feel proud of my culture and of my country," she said.
Since then, she has performed around the world, befriended stars such as Madonna and Gianni Versace, and released eight albums, two of which have won Grammys.
(Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Richard Balmforth)