Fatma Mukhtarova

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Fatma Mukhtarova
Fatma Mukhtarova.jpg
Background information
Born(1893-03-26)26 March 1893
Urmia, Iran
Died19 October 1972(1972-10-19) (aged 79)
Baku, Azerbaijan
Years active1914–1954

Fatma Sattarovna Mukhtarova (Azerbaijani: Fatma Muxtarova, Russian: Фатьма Мухтарова; 26 March 1893 or 1898[1] in Urmia – 19 October 1972 in Baku) was a Russian and Soviet opera singer (mezzo-soprano),[2] Honorary Artist of Georgia, and People's Artist of Azerbaijan.

Early years[edit]

Fatma Mukhtarova was born in Urmia, northwestern Persia (now West Azerbaijan Province, Iran) to a Persian[3] or Iranian Azeri[4] father Abbas Rzayev and a Lipka Tatar mother Sara Chaseniewicz.[4] Soon after their daughter's birth, the family moved to Russia and settled in Rostov-on-Don. In 1901, Mukhtarova's father, a street singer, died of tuberculosis at the age of 28 and her mother married organ-grinder Sattar Mukhtarov, also an immigrant from Persia.[4] The family lived in very poor conditions and moved from one city in Russia to another until eventually settling in Saratov in 1910.[1] Mukhtarova's mother sent young Fatma to learn from street singers. The girl known as Katya the Organ-Grinder now performed publicly dressed in a Ukrainian costume and accompanied by an accordion and a tambourine. It is said that once while singing near a factory, she was noticed by young Lidia Ruslanova who worked there and who was so touched by Mukhtarova's singing that she gave the latter all the money she had on herself.[1]

Katya the Organ-Grinder

Soon a news story by journalist Arkhangelsky about young and talented Katya Mukhtarova appeared in the newspaper Saratovsky Vestnik. She was fostered by cello-player Kamensky, son of the Russian opera diva Maria Kamenskaya. However, in her new home, Mukhtarova felt she was treated like a servant who was only allowed to the master dinner table when guests from the "high society" were visiting and needed to be entertained by her singing. Offended by this attitude, Mukhtarova left the Kamensky estate and continued to give charitable concerts in cities and towns of the Saratov Governorate saving money for her future music education as suggested by Arkhangelsky. In 1912, she attempted to get admitted to the newly established Saratov Conservatory but was rejected due to her "less than one-octave-range voice gone hoarse from singing in the cold". Luckily she was noticed by prominent opera singer Mikhail Medvedev who decided to train the young singer and fixed her voice within two weeks. Thus Fatma Mukhtarova was among the first students of the Saratov Conservatory. She continued to live with her parents and supported her family financially by giving concerts in different cities across the empire, despite the fact that the code of the Conservatory did not allow this.[1] During one of such concert tours, in 1913, she visited Baku where she met opera singer Huseyngulu Sarabski. Sympathetic to her cause, Sarabski convinced the Baku oil magnate Murtuza Mukhtarov (the singer's namesake) to provide financial assistance to the struggling young singer.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Mukhtarova's first professional performance was in Prince Matthew's Headquarters at the Saratov City Theatre. After graduating from the conservatory in 1914, Mukhtarov married a Saratov-based lawyer Alexander Malinin and gave birth to daughter Leyla. Shortly afterwards, she left for Moscow where through her brother-in-law Boris Malinin she managed to audition in front of Fedor Shalyapin and later Sergei Zimin. She accepted the offer to work for the Zimin Opera where she performed alongside Shalyapin in Boris Godunov and began rehearsing for Carmen which would later become her most outstanding role.[1][4] In 1918, Mukhtarova returned to Saratov with a group of soloist where she debuted as Carmen at the Saratov Opera Theatre.

After the October Revolution, Fatma Mukhtarova acted in various theatres across Ukraine, the Volga Region and the South Caucasus. Newspapers of the time noted the unusual naturalness and emotionality of Mukhtarova's role as Carmen. During the 1924 tour in Baku, Georgii Nelepp acting as Jose accidentally thrust a knife into Mukhtarova's back three centimetres deep. This was revealed only during the final bows when blood was trickling down her skirt.[5] In 1936, she became Honorary Artist of Georgia.

From 1938, she worked for the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.

In 1940, Mukhtarova was awarded the title of the People's Artist of Azerbaijan. She left the big stage in 1954 but continued to train young Azerbaijani opera singers. Her last performance took place at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Грачева Л. Судьба певицы. Годы и люди: [Сб. очерков]. Саратов, 1988. Вып. 3. С. 164-174.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b «Мухтарова Фатьма Саттаровна». Большая биографическая энциклопедия.
  4. ^ a b c d e Лучшая в мире Кармен. Из воспоминаний внучки Фатьмы Мухтаровой, Светланы Курочкиной. «Азербайджанский конгресс». 16 ноября 2009 года.
  5. ^ Лучшая в мире Кармен. Из воспоминаний внучки Фатьмы Мухтаровой, Светланы Курочкиной. «Азербайджанский конгресс». 23 ноября 2009 года.

See also[edit]