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|Occupation||opera and crossover singer (mezzo-soprano), actress, presenter|
Benjamin Izmajlov (m. 2002)
Manca Izmajlova (pronounced "Mantsa Izmaylova") is a Slovenian opera and crossover singer (mezzo-soprano) and actress. She is best known for her musical project "The Slavic Soul"  recorded and performed live with Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra. Her repertoire includes more than 350 classical and modern songs in 24 languages.
Early years and music beginnings
Manca Izmajlova was born as Manca Urbanc in Slovenia and spent her childhood and teenage years in Lesce, a village by the lake resort Bled. Manca's mother is an economist who owns an organic food shop, Manca's father is an architect. She has two younger brothers.
Manca started music school at the age of 6 and played the flute for six years. At fourteen she began taking singing lessons. At sixteen she started to perform jazz standards repertoire with a pianist at Bled hotels.
She has always had a passion for learning languages - by the age of eighteen she spoke English, German, Italian and Dutch. After finishing the Gymnasium in Kranj she passed the exams to enter the University of Law in Ljubljana - a decision she has made after not being accepted into any of the music programmes in Slovenia.
After a year she had quit law and passed the audition for Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Slovenia was in the transition decade at the time, so the living standard difference between UK and Slovenia was enormous. Manca managed to obtain several scholarships to pay for her fees (Ministry of Culture, Mayor of Radovljica municipality, charity concerts, Rotary Club Bled, Mountview singing scholarship...). She worked at a clothes shop in Hampstead at weekends and holidays, to pay for her rent.
Start of the professional career
After obtaining her BA Hons in Performance at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts Manca appeared in a commercial for Mobitel (Slovenia) with a song called Vesna's song (Vesnina pesem) in 2001 and overnight became known in her country. She was invited to co-create and host a popular Saturday evening national TV Show Care for a Dance? (Povabilo na ples), featuring Slovene National Radio Big Band Orchestra. She also appeared in several independent theatre plays, directed two smaller musicals and had a growing career as a singer in Slovenia. In 2002 her first CD, "My World", with the group NORDunk was released. The CD comprised new songs in jazz/chanson style.
Manca has been studying classical singing with various singing teachers in England, Austria and Slovenia since the age of eighteen. After meeting her future husband Benjamin Izmajlov, who was at the time studying violin in Moscow, she decided to pause her career in Slovenia. She moved to Moscow, where she studied opera singing at Academic College by the Tchaikovsky Conservatory (Академический музыкальный колледж при Московской консерватории) with soprano Valentina Sharonova - at the time soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic Society.
At the end of their stay in Moscow Manca and Benjamin recorded the CD Slavic Soul (Slovanska duša - 2007) and a year later Slovene Heart (Slovensko srce - 2008) with Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra. Both became success in Slovenia (platinum sale) and also in other countries. "Slavic Soul" was released under the title "Far Away" in South Korea. "Slovene Heart" became an official Slovene government present during the country's presidency to the EU in 2008.
Manca Izmajlova has performed all over the world in more than 1000 musical appearances and concerts. Manca's specialty is also that she can sing in more than 20 languages. She says that she is able to learn and perform a song in any language, which she has proven many times, for example - by singing Icelandic and Finnish national anthems. She also sang in Arabic, Yiddish, Japanese, Swahili... All of the songs of her music project Slavic Soul are in their original (nine) languages.
Today she mostly performs with symphonic orchestras, sometimes featuring a choir, and with pianists Gokhan Aybulus (Turkey) and Daria Tschaikowskaja (Germany). She often performs with her husband Benjamin Izmajlov who is a concert violinist, conductor, composer and her music producer. She also cooperates with "Madrigal Soloists of the Moscow Philharmonic Society".
One of the first climaxes of her creative career was the opening concert for the fourth Slavic Culture Festival in Moscow (2008), where she and her husband performed as the leading soloists together with the Moscow State Philharmonic Orchestra of Pavel Kogan. The concert was a success and they were awarded with a medal for inter-cultural relations from the Russian Orthodox Church. In the same year Manca received first award at a singing competition in Moscow (dedicated to 100th anniversary of birth of composer V. Solovev-Sedoy, the author of the famous song Moscow Nights). The competition featured over 2000 singers.
In March 2010 she held her first very own big concert titled "The Slavic Soul" at the Cankar Centre, the central cultural centre in Ljubljana, alongside the Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra conducted by Sergey Skripka. The concert was sold-out twice and ended with long standing ovations. It was broadcast by the Slovene National TV on New Year's Day 2011.
Similar concert with the same orchestra and conductor was repeated in March 2011 at ex-Yugoslavia's largest concert hall - Sava Centre in Belgrade. Manca Izmajlova upgraded her performance with a 70-members Choir Lola (Hor AKUD Lola - the legendary Serbian choir). At the end of this concert there was 160 people on stage and standing ovations from nearly 4000 people in the audience. The concert was recorded HD and has been broadcast on Serbian National TV prime time several times.
In spring 2012 "The Slavic Soul" was received with superlatives at the Moscow Philharmonic - Tchaikovsky Hall. Manca and Benjamin Izmajlov were accompanied by Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra and choir Capella Yurlova.
"The Slavic Soul" world tour continues ever since, last concerts were at Cairo Opera House, with Cairo Symphony Orchestra in December 2016 and a double concert in Armenia with Gyumri State Symphony Orchestra in the spring 2017.
The Slavic Soul
Manca Izmajlova spent several years studying opera with known Russian teachers and discovered the immense richness in music of Slavic nations. Years of forming ideas have resulted in "Slavic Soul", followed by "Slovene heart" and most recently "Songs of My Home". These unique music projects of the "crossover" genre unite Slavic music and bring it to a new level.
The Slavic Soul includes the most beautiful music themes from 10 countries. Songs are traditional, classical and popular, all in new symphonic arrangements.
Currently Manca Izmajlova is in the process of recording her 6th studio album, a selection of famous Russian songs in new orchestrations. The album is to be finished in August 2018.
- 2002 ZKP: Manca & NORDunk: MOJ SVET (My World)
- 2005 independent release: Manca Izmajlova & Blaž Jurjevčič: AS TIME GOES BY
- 2007 Nika Records: Manca Izmajlova & Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra: SLOVANSKA DUŠA (Slavic Soul / Far Away)
- 2008 Nika Records: Manca Izmajlova, Benjamin Izmajlov & Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra: SLOVENSKO SRCE (Slovene Heart)
- 2011 Oka Books: Manca Izmajlova: KNJIGA, KI ZAZIBLJE V SANJE (Lullabies for Babies)
- 2016 Družina: Manca Izmajlova, AVE Choir, Benjamin Izmajlov & Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra: PESMI MOJIH KRAJEV (Songs of My Home)
- 2018 - to be officially released: Manca Izmajlova, Benjamin Izmajlov & Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra: THE RUSSIAN COLLECTION
Manca Izmajlova is married to a classical violinist, composer, conductor and producer Benjamin Izmajlov (since 2002). They have two daughters - Izabela (2007) and Karolina (2013).
Manca Izmajlova is a brand ambassador of the Viennese jewelry brand FREYWILLE, since 2014.
Manca Izmajlova's website - http://www.mancaizmajlova.com/en
Those Were The Days - Dorogoj dlinnoju: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd5q1Ioo588
Chopin - Etude No.3 Tristesse - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83AwKedowDU
- [www.mancaizmajlova.com/en Manca Izmajlova's website]
- British Treatre in Slovenia, 2008 - http://www.bestheatre.com/manca.izmajlova/index.html
- Interview for diva.si, 2008 - http://www.diva.si/clanki_notranja.php?id_clanek=940
- Facebook fan page, biography - http://sl-si.facebook.com/pages/Manca-Izmajlova/77297257674?sk=info
- Slovene national TV portal, 2011 - http://www.rtvslo.si/kultura/glasba/manca-izmajlova-kot-prva-slovenka-nastopila-v-moskovski-filharmoniji/267785
- Slovene national TV portal, live chat, 2010 - http://mmc.info/pda/?&c_mod=pda&op=klepet&func=6&chat_id=1001
- Slovene Pop TV portal, 2011 - http://24ur.com/ekskluziv/glasba/manca-izmajlova-je-osvojila-beograd.html
- Educatis.si, article 2010 - http://www.edusatis.si/preprostost/manca-izmajlova-nas-je-v-cankarjevem-domu-dvignila-na-noge
- Slovene POP TV Portal, 2008 - http://24ur.com/ekskluziv/domaca-scena/foto-zlata-manca-izmajlova.html
- singers.mandy.com - https://singers.mandy.com/in/view.php?uid=183836
- politikis.si, article 2009 - http://www.politikis.si/?p=3387
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs Slovenia, 2011 - http://www.mzz.gov.si/nc/en/newsroom/news/article/3247/29687/
- elle.si, interview 2007 - http://www.elle.si/iz-nove-elle/mozaik/manca-izmajlova-prepricljiva-v-vsakem-nastopu/
- Press Serbia, 2011 - http://www.kudazavikend.com/12-Na%20koncertu/13355-Manca%20Izmajlova%20u%20Sava%20Centru/
- Wien international, 2007 - https://web.archive.org/web/20120401140856/http://www.wieninternational.at/en/node/7015
- times.si, 2011 - https://web.archive.org/web/20120425082514/http://www.times.si/zanimivosti/manca-izmajlova-zelo-sem-navezana-na-hcerko--NONE-a659fefb41.html
- pozareport.si, 2007 - http://www.pozareport.si/?Id=estrada&View=novica&novicaID=3210
- Mediaspeed, celebrity photos 2007-2011 - http://www.mediaspeed.net/iskalnik.asp?iskalnik=manca+izmajlova
- Blic Serbia, 2011 - http://www.blic.rs/Zabava/Vesti/240383/Manca-Izmajlova-sa-90-muzicara-na-pozornici-Sava-centra
- Slotraveler, 2010 - https://web.archive.org/web/20120403035708/http://www.slotraveler.com/news/show/123/manca-izmajlova.html