The Magic Flute, Saturday at 12:00 PM
Listen to Albina Shagimuratova.
It would have been presumptuous to proclaim, “A star is born”; by the time Albina Shagimuratova sang “Gilda” in Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto at Lyric Opera, she had a following from London to San Francisco (though she was still an unknown in Chicago).
Her spring debut at the Civic Opera House displayed the kind of technique that inspires wonder in the most exceptional athletes, which she wielded, adding layer upon layer to Gilda’s character, making people drop their jaws, and clamor for more.
Of course opera companies don’t turn on a dime. By the time Rigoletto was onstage, the 2013-2014 season was all but final; so the immediate goal became: get Albina back for the September extravaganza, Stars of Lyric Opera (and keep Chicago on her radar).
Born in Tashkent, the Russian coloratura studied choral conducting, earning a doctorate at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory; more recently she trained at the Houston Grand Opera Studio under the leadership of Anthony Freud, now general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago.
With impeccable instincts, Freud loosed his protégé upon fourteen thousand spectators at the September concert in Millennium Park, handing her the most harrowing part for any singer anywhere: the mad scene from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.
By coincidence, Ms. Shagimuratova was unable to attend the rehearsals for that monstrously difficult music, she was en route to Chicago from a command performance at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg. With seemingly inexhaustible reserves, she stepped off a plane after the better part of a calendar day, and knocked Lucia into the stratosphere.
This soprano is one to watch; one to cherish with every opportunity. She sings “Queen of the Night” in Saturday’s San Francisco Opera broadcast of Mozart’s The Magic Flute beginning at 12:00 PM.
“Shagimuratova’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, bringing a spectrum of vocal colors that reflected Gilda’s differing moods, from naïve innocence to passionate exuberance. Each time she brought out an astonishingly high, or powerful, or quiet note, she seemed to come back with something higher, or more powerful, or poignantly quieter still. Her performance of ‘Caro nome’ elicited unintended but audible gasps from the audience while she sang.”
— Gregory Barnett, Opera News, April 2009 (after a production of Rigoletto in Houston)
Listen to this excerpt from the mad scene from Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti, sung by Albina Shagimuratova with the Lyric Opera Orchestra under the direction of Ward Stare, Stars of Lyric Opera, September 2013: