Carmen and the Charm of Russian Romance: Russian Opera Star Tsvetana Omelchuk Performs in Ashgabat

Mezzo-soprano Tsvetana Omelchuk, a soloist of the Mariinsky Academy of Young Opera Singers (St. Petersburg, Russia), has given a performance at the Magtymguly Music and Drama Theater accompanied by Honored Artist of Turkmenistan, pianist Vladimir Mkrtumov.

Co-organized by the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan, Roscooperation (the Russian Federal Agency for CIS Affairs and International Humanitarian Cooperation) and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Turkmenistan, the recital became the first in a series of events in our country to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.

The first half of the concert included romances by Russian composers: Alexander Dargomyzhsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Dmitry Shostakovich, Sergey Rachmaninov, Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, Leonid Desyatnikov, among others. Performed expressively by the singer, they captivated the audience with a cantilena of flowing melodic phrases, an array of characters, a delightful blend of poetry and music, and seemed to reach out and touch everyone in the auditorium. With tender sadness, a touch of bitterness or in the language of true love, the romance songs reflected innermost feelings and emotions in all sincerity.

Without belittling the true merits of romances as well as compositions by European composers featured in the second part of the concert, I would like to say that the absolute highlight of the evening of music was the brilliant Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen.

With a bouquet of red roses for the listeners, the singer stepped off the stage into the auditorium, and singing the part of the sensual and strong-willed eponymous heroine, who wins hearts, made the audience truly immersed in the drama and action. The original interpretation of Carmen and the singer’s richly charismatic performance filled everyone with strong emotions, which were intensified by Tsvetana’s voluminous voice and expressive passages played by maestro Mkrtumov, making a harmonious whole.

The singer’s amazing transformation won prolong applause, shouts of “Bravo” and bouquets of flowers from the audience.

Moved by the warm welcome, Tsvetana sang a song called “My Mother” (music by Valery Gavrilin, lyrics by Albina Shulgina) as an encore. Listening to the soul-stirring lyrics: “My quiet, tender, kind mother!” everyone easily visualized their own mother...

The concert came to a close, and the enthusiastic concert-goers filled the stage: some wanting selfies with the renowned singer; media representatives phrasing their questions and competing with each other; fans of the singer, whose second performance in Ashgabat was an enormous success and a true delight to the audience, shared their impressions...

Tsvetana Omelchuk’s answers to questions asked in an interview give a brief glimpse of her life, singing career and beyond:

- I am a daughter of a military service member and was born in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Like me, my father and grandmother enjoy singing. In addition to my at-home singing practice routine, I attended a music school, and later performed at concerts and won singing competitions. Military families are known to relocate to different places quiet often and over time we moved to Moscow where I was fortunate enough to continue my vocal training at the Gnessins Russian Academy of Music.

It takes real dedication and persistence to be a professional opera singer. Apart from that, I am just like everyone else.

My rendition of the Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen is a vocal improvisation and interpretation. I must admit that I was worried about what the audience would think of my bold experiment since the East is a delicate matter. But judging by the audience’s favorable response, everything was free-flowing and natural.

This is the second time I have visited Turkmenistan. I am truly grateful to the Ashgabat music enthusiasts for their warm welcome, their love of classical music and singing, and for their ability to listen and express their heartfelt emotions. I was really delighted to perform for the appreciative and receptive audience. No doubt, given the chance I will come here again!

How were you given the unusual name Tsvetana? It was my father’s idea. In his youth, he heard this Bulgarian name and immediately decided that he would give it to his daughter. This is the story behind my rare and in my opinion, poetic name.