Friday, 5 January 2018
Aino Ackté - Finland´s first major international opera star
The picture below with Aino Ackté as Elizabeth in Tannhauser, based on an engraving by Le Lieurre, is included in the 1925 memoirs of the Finnish star soprano. (My coloring)
Aino Ackté (originally Achte; 23 April 1876 – 8 August 1944) was a Finnish soprano. She was the first international star of the Finnish opera scene after Alma Fohström, and a groundbreaker for the domestic field.
Ackté was born in Helsinki. Her parents were mezzo-soprano Emmy Achté (née Strömer) and the conductor-composer Lorenz Nikolai Achté. Aino Ackté married a doctor, Heikki Renvall, in 1901 and gave birth to a daughter, Glory Leppänen, the same year. Their son, Mies Reenkola, was born in 1908.
The young Ackté studied singing under her mother's tutelage until 1894 when she entered the Paris Conservatory, studying under Edmond Duvernoy and Alfred Girodet. Her debut at the Paris Grand Opera was in 1897 in Faust and she was signed on for six years as a result.
In 1904 Ackté was engaged by the New York Metropolitan Opera where she remained until 1906. She created the title role of Richard Strauss's Salome at its local premieres in Leipzig (1907) and London (1910). The Covent Garden premiere was an enormous success and Strauss himself proclaimed Ackté the "one and only Salome". Ackté considered the London performances her real breakthrough.
In 1911, Ackté, Oskar Merikanto, and Edvard Fazer founded the Kotimainen Ooppera (renamed in 1914 Finnish Opera, and then in 1956 the Finnish National Opera). She was to act as its director in 1938-39.
After parting ways with the National Opera, Ackté organized an international Savonlinna Opera Festival beginning on 3 July 1912; it was held 1912-14, 1916 and 1930.
Jean Sibelius dedicated his tone poem Luonnotar to Ackté and she premiered the work on 10 September 1913 at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester, England. She also sang in the first performance of Luonnotar in Finland, in January 1914.
Ackté ended her international travels in 1914 and returned to Finland, where she gave her farewell performance in 1920. Her final public performances took place at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 1930.
Ackté's coterie included among others Albert Edelfelt, who painted a famous full portrait of her in 1901. She provided the libretto for Juha, and opera that received two treatments: the first by Aarre Merikanto (1922) and the second by Leevi Madetoja (1934).
She died of pancreatic cancer in Nummela, Vihti in August 1944. (Wikipedia)