Farewell to John Athanas, 93, a renowned Albanian opera singer

John Athanas Joseph, 93, passed away early Tuesday morning, October 1, 2019 at Mass General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He was surrounded by his loving family and died holding the hands of both his daughters.

John was born to parents Olimbia and At-Thanas Joseph, on November 4, 1925 in Brockton, MA. He graduated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Russia where he received a degree in Belcanto as a tenor opera singer. He was of Albanian ethnicity, and became an acclaimed opera singer in Albania and around the world. His accomplishments include many leading opera roles in the Theater of Opera and Ballet in Tirana, Albania. He is mostly known for his performance of the opera Scanderbeg, of Prenk Jakova. During his life, he received many accolades, such as the International Opera Competition Award 2nd prize, in 1957, the Medal of Gratitude from the president of Albania, the Lifetime Achievement award from the AANO Organization, amongst others. He was also a professor of Belcanto at the Academy of Arts in Albania for over 20 years. John moved back to the U.S. in 1994, where he continued to contribute to the Albanian as well as the Russian artistic communities in Boston as a professor, a performer, and a mentor.

In 1961, John married the love of his life, Sekine Sharofi. John is survived by his wife, daughters Mirela and Edlira, granddaughter Julia and grandson Easton. He is also survived by his niece Mariana and husband Sandri, nephew Angelo and his wife Natasha, and niece in-law Miranda, as well as many other family members on his wife’s side, whom he loved as his own family including his sister in-law Adivije Alibali, his brother in-law Islam Sharofi, his sister in-law Mirushe Sharofi, his wife’s nieces and nephews and their families, Lida and Agron Balluku (who in the last chapter of John’s life with his care and devotion, became like son to him), Agron and Susan Alibali, Meli and Skender Strazimiri, Majlinda and Fatmir Cashku, Zana and Clirim Balluku, Mira and Edmond Reci, Merita and Mark Hasani, Ilir and Rudina Alibali, and Blerand Sharofi and Amina Sharofi, who considered John her second father. John was predeceased by his sister Katerina Xhacka and nephew Gjergji Xhacka.

John was known for his sense of humor, his kind heart, and great storytelling. He was an entertainer and lived to bring joy to others, whether at family gatherings or his singing performances, or while simply spending time with family and friends. John was an icon, an artistic treasure, and a highly accomplished opera singer, yet as he had expressed, the devotion and the love for his wife, his daughters, and his grandchildren was his life’s greatest work. John will be profoundly missed and loved forever.

Visiting hours in The Robert J. Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home, 1803 Centre St. WEST ROXBURY on Friday October 4, from 6:00 to 10:00 pm. A funeral services will be held on Saturday October 5, at 1:00 pm in St. George Albanian Orthodox Church, 523 East Broadway South Boston. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Interment Wildwood Cemetery, Winchester, MA.

(Source: https://www.lawlerfuneralhome.com/notices/John-Joseph)

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