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‘Dream come true’: Mongolian opera singer Amartuvshin Enkhbat debuts at the MET

Mongolian opera singer at the MET
via Metropolitan Opera

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    Opera singer Amartuvshin Enkhbat’s passion for music knows no bounds; whether he’s rising from a peaceful slumber or embarking on a long-haul flight, he can’t help but sing.

    “I’m always thinking about the music that I’m performing, trying different techniques, trying different sounds without even realizing it,” Enkhbat tells NextShark during a recent interview. “That’s the truth of really loving it, like being fully immersed in your art.”

    Enkhbat’s unwavering devotion to his vocal craft has helped to transform him into a prominent talent in the opera scene. This past October, the 36-year-old Mongolian Baritone made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” which he describes as a “dream come true.”

    The Verdi baritone

    Considered to be one of the greatest artists of the Italian operatic tradition, Verdi is renowned for compositions that reach soaring melodramatic highs on the shoulders of delicately crafted characters brimming with nuance and depth.

    Enkhbat has an affinity for Verdi’s compositions, which feature prominent baritone roles that complement his rich and powerful yet silky-smooth vocals. 

    “My timbre works very well with Verdi’s works,” Enkhbat shares. “Since I was a student back home, I used to listen to world-renowned baritones singing Verdi roles and I would take notes on how those singers sang, which is why I feel connected to this particular composer.”

    The Verdi role that Enkhbat will be portraying in his Metropolitan Opera debut is Giorgio Germont, a traditionalist father figure who initially objects to a marriage between his son Alfredo and a courtesan named Violetta. He eventually struggles with his moral convictions upon fully grasping the depths of their love.

    “At first, when [Germont] enters the stage… like a stoic, a man of virtue, you can’t break this man,” Enkhbat says. “From the outside, he may seem like this very strong, almost mean person, but also at the same time he is someone who’s very emotional and sympathetic toward others.”

    Enkhbat emphasized the importance of adhering to “the old Italian style” and “bringing out what Gusippe Verdi has written for this role” when preparing for his role. In doing so, his interpretation captures a level of authenticity that harkens back to some of the greatest Verdi baritones in history.   

    Mongolian roots

    “[Enkhbat] is a generational talent who invokes memories of the great Verdi baritones who have made history on the stage of the Met with their richly burnished voices,” said General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera Peter Gelb. “That’s why we cast him in the iconic Verdi role of Violetta’s father, Germont, in La Traviata.”

    But Enkhbat adds that “if there’s some color, some timbre specific to him that touches the audience’s hearts and seems special to the audience” it is a product of his Mongolian roots.

    From folk songs passed down for millennia to the ethereal drones of throat singing, Enkhbat has spent his formative years surrounded by the culture of a country dubbed by its locals as “the nation of singers.” The operatic tradition has grown in popularity in Mongolia in recent years, with native singers making the rounds at major classical competition circuits. There has also been a rise in Mongolian opera companies, with one, the Mongolian State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, hosting over 100 performances annually.

    As a Mongolian vocalist who has reached international acclaim, Enkhbat aims to pave the way for greater recognition of the creatives and culture of his country.

    “It is everyone’s dream to promote their culture to the world,” Enkhbat says. “And we do have an opera house in Mongolia and we also do have Mongolian operas. It is my wish for other people to follow in my footsteps, and also to promote Mongolian opera to the world.”

    In the meantime, Amartuvshin Enkhbat will continue to perform in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “La Traviata” until the end of January. The Metropolitan Opera’s production of “La Traviata” will continue through March 18.


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