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The long path Camillia Ioffe traveled is now rewarding her

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Originally from Baku, a childhood trip to see the Azerbaijani ballet opened the door to music and performance for Camillia Ioffe, who is now with the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv. (Photos: Facebook)

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Camellia Ioffe is an Israeli opera singer of Azerbaijani descent. Although there is more than one opera singer in Israel of Azerbaijani descent, she is the only one out of the lot who actively sings in Azeri and partakes in cultural events both in Israel and abroad.  

She has taken it upon herself to do everything in her power to support the Azerbaijan-Israel relationship by introducing Azerbaijani culture and music in the State of Israel.

“I was born in Baku, Azerbaijan,” Camellia related in an exclusive interview. “My grandmother on my mother’s side was from the Ukraine. She came in 1930. The situation was terrible in Ukraine. There was a famine. They came to Baku with nothing. There, they began to build their home. My grandmother and her sister were very young when they came to Azerbaijan.”

According to her,“When World War II began, they were young girls.  They wanted to be musicians, but they could not. My grandmother worked in a weapons factory at the age of 15 and my grandmother’s sister was a nurse during the war. My great-grandfather played the guitar and went to war. He disappeared without a trace. Life was difficult. But, they loved music and played music all the time.”

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Camellia believes that her career path allowed her to fulfill the dreams that her ancestors dreamt, but were unable to realize: “My mother took me to see the Azerbaijani ballet as a child.  After that, I fell in love with the theater. Soon afterwards, I asked for a piano and began to learn how to play for the next seven years. I went to music school in Baku and began to sing as well. After a number of years, I decided to sing opera.”

Like most other Jewish immigrants to Israel, Camellia struggled to make it professionally in Israel. When she first made Aliyah, Azerbaijan was in a mess as the Soviet Union just disintegrated: “Baku then was not like Baku today.” When she first came to Israel, she was 19, but life was difficult, so she went to the Ukraine for eight years, where she went to music school: “I graduated from a music vocational school with a vocal class in Crimea, Simferopol and the Donetsk Academy of Music in a conductor’s class.”

She returned to Israel, but it took her time to obtain her dream of being an opera singer. “Many professional people come from all around the world to the Jewish state,” she noted, thus making it very competitive to make it here professionally. “In 2009, I did a test for new immigrants and got help. I got a piano.I received good grades. After that, no one helps and everyone is alone. Therefore, I worked at supersal, a gym, as a clerk and it took time to be an opera singer. I did a test. I did auditions for the next year.  It came to 2013 and only then I got into music. I did not work in my field throughout that period of time.”

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Camellia decided that enough was enough and she was going to be bold, so she could work in her field: “I took a taxi and went to the opera. They thought about whether or not to take me. I was alone.” And there was an added challenge before she made it at the Tel Aviv Opera House. “In 2014, I needed to work with the opera and needed to do chemo at the same time.  It was not easy.” She later married and has two children. 

“My big dream was to work in the Tel Aviv opera house,” however, she stopped working for the opera when the pandemic started: “They sent us home. For two years, we were at home. School was on and off.  The opera wanted to fire us. Everything was a mess. So, I left the opera in order to study at the Jerusalem Musical Academy in a vocal class.” 

Now, she is looking forward to being able to work again professionally in her field.

Israeli opera performer Camillia Ioffe, seen visiting Shusha in Azerbaijan. (Photo: Facebook)

In April 2022 Camellia took part in the Fifth Congress of the Azerbaijani Diaspora, held in the city of Shusha.  

“By the order of President Ilham Aliyev, I was awarded the Tereggi Medal for my contributions towards the relations between Israel and Azerbaijan.”  She also took part in a concert in Baku dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel.  

“Being an Azerbaijani singer, I consider it my duty to acquaint my audience with the multifaceted culture of Azerbaijan.”

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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