On June 20th, The Royal Opera House witnessed a remarkable evening as mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina delivered a sensational performance as Charlotte in Jules Massenet's timeless opera "Werther." Her debut received glowing reviews from critics, and her portrayal of the conflicted character left the audience captivated.
Let's take a closer look at what the press had to say about Aigul’s remarkable performance:
"A rich-voiced, startlingly assured Russian mezzo-soprano nurtured in the Royal Opera’s young artists scheme — and, next year, the heroine of Covent Garden’s new staging of Carmen — she announces herself as a star here. The character’s contained emotions burst apart in the celebrated letter scene of Act III, and Akhmetshina truly lets rip. Backlit by Massenet’s moody orchestration (a louring saxophone to the fore), this was where the intensity of Antonio Pappano’s conducting met a fitting partner".
"Aigul Akhmetshina’s Charlotte shone”.
“There are two star performances. One is supplied by the orchestra, the other by Aigul Akhmetshina, singing in a rich and mettlesome mezzo-soprano that cuts through whatever the orchestra throws at it. Her Charlotte, contained yet impassioned, emerges as the opera’s most interesting, fully rounded character".
"The celebrity tenor returns, but it is Aigul Akhmetshina who scores the major triumph in this staging of Massenet's opera."
"Aigul Akhmetshina scores a major triumph as the distressed, emotional woman on the edge of maturity, finding the conflicts in love, her focused but vibrant voice perfectly set off against the exuberant innocence of her younger sister Sophie."
“Aigul Akhmetshina is exceptional”
"There is genuine passion, though, in Aigul Akhmetshina’s extraordinarily accomplished Charlotte. The former Jette Parker Young Artist, now moving into the big league, possesses a peaches-and-cream mezzo with the full range of colours needed to paint in her character’s inner conflict.".
"Aigul Akhmetshina steps into the big league with a captivating Charlotte"
"This former Jette Parker Young Artist, still only in her mid-twenties, has already proved her mettle – jumping in to the lead in Barrie Kosky’s trixy Carmen on this stage while still on the scheme – but this feels like an arrival. If her name can’t yet sell out a house, her voice can certainly hold it".
"Outstanding singing from the heroine of Massenet's evening raises the roof. Aigul Akhmetshina is Covent Garden's big star."
"...it was Akhmetshina who brought the house down on first night, and whom Kaufmann literally swept off her feet, swinging her up in the air for the curtain call".
The Star of the Show - extraordinary performance given by Russian Mezzo-Soprano Aigul Akhmetshina. She has already been hailed as ‘The new Netrebko’, and whilst her voice is genuinely redolent of Netrebko at her most potent, I genuinely believe she has the gifts to surpass the achievements and acclaim of her fellow Russian.
From her opening line, ‘Eh, bien, Père, es-tu content d’eux?’ to the final utterance, ‘Werther! Ah! Tout est fini!’, she delivered a mesmerizingly beautiful voice of wide-ranging palette. Her instrument is a remarkably rich, creamy, and seductive mezzo, penetrative but beautifully resonant. Her rendition in Act three of ‘Werther! Qui m’aurait dit … Ces lettres!’, was sublime and the house agreed, delivering the only in-performance applause of the evening. Her interpretations of surrogate mother to her siblings in Act one, through loyal, dutiful spouse to Albert in act two, to remorseful, subjugated lover of Werther in the final act was entirely convincing, such is the conviction of her acting and the expressiveness of her voice.
The applause at her curtain call was tumultuous and unparalleled, and Kaufmann, literally, lifted her off her feet in visible jubilation, acknowledging her achievements. A luminary of the distinguished Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, Akhmetshina’s stardom has been forecast for a while now, having garnered five-star reviews for performances as “Carmen,” Rosina in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”, Elisabetta “Maria Stuarda” and as Lola in “Cavalleria Rusticana” as well as in other performances. I confidently predict that on this performance, her star is well and truly born.
"The warmth of Akhmetshina's characterisation meant the theatre seemed to fall in love with her on the spot."
"She brought the role an effortlessly expressive, ripe-apricot sound, while the sincerity and warmth of her characterisation, especially in her aria with saxophone, “Va! Laisse couler mes larmes”, meant that the whole theatre, rather than just Werther, seemed to fall in love with her on the spot. She was formerly one of the ROH’s Jette Parker Young Artists; the house can be proud".