The voice of amazing beauty, musical talent and mastery of vocal performance — these are the main attributes of Muyassar Razzakova’s art.

What is a vocal art? The prominent Russian singer S. Y. Lemeshev once remarked on the subject: «A person comes out on the stage and you think, oh, such a wonderful voice! But after he has sung two or three romances you get bored! Why is that? It’s because he does not possess an inner light, and the person himself is plain and talent-less, and it’s only that God has blessed him with the voice. Sometimes it happens the other way round: the performer seems to have a regular voice, but he has pronounced something in a special way and the familiar romance suddenly shines, sparkling with new intonations. And you enjoy listening to such singer, because he has something to say, which is the most important» (1, p. 205). And Razzakova does have something to say!

In her childhood years Muyassar was very fond of bird songs, which could be heard only early in the morning, at sunrise. Not to miss this wonderful concert, the girl woke up few hours before it had begun, and when it started, motionless, she listened intently to these magical sounds. The sounds indeed produced a magical effect upon her. Once the birds were gone, Muyassar tried to reproduce their singing — splendid vocal passages. At that time she was only five years old. This peculiar school of nature where birds were her teachers had had its impact: «She has naturally trained voice», venerable pedagogues of vocal would eventually say.

Another school in her vocal education was radio. The concerts of the prominent opera singers becorpe her guiding star. Songs performed by S. Kabulova and the trills in Alyabyev’s «Nightingale» performed by L. Barsova drew Muyassar’s full attention. The most amazing thing was that she, without the knowledge of musical notation, onlybyear, could accurately reproduce these pieces. The same radio wave brought to her the wonderful arias of Gilda, Violetta and Mimi. A decision to become an opera singer was made at the age of sixteen.

In 1981 Muyassar was admitted to the Conservatory prep course, the class of Associate Professor L. Savinkova. She was heard by well-known musicians 2. Khaknazarov, N. Khoshimov and N. Barsov. Over two years of studies Razzakova learned musical notation, solfeggio and theory of music and successfully mastered vocal. After finishing the prep course, she entered the Conservatory, going to the same class of L. Savinkova. At her second year, due to the fact that her teacher left the country, Muyassar was transferred to the class of Rosalinda Laut, a well-known opera singer and the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan. Muyassar loved to sing and worked very hard: she took very seriously every new part she learned. She persevered, working systematically, giving her entire spiritual and physical energy to it, for her driving force was perfectionism.

The approach of Rosalinda Laut to the education of her new student was not only of a professional vocalist, but also of an artist-musician who revealed the musical riches of pieces to her students, carrying them away with emotional communication of musical text, temperament and the art of performance. Right from the start, by demanding a thoughtful singing and emotionally coloured sound of the voice from her students, Laut at the same time put a lot of emphasis on the beauty of the vocal sound. To sing beautifully was one of the teacher’s requirements. At the Glinka contest in which Razzakova participated with the aria of Antonida from «Ivan Susanin» opera, a member of the jury and the People’s Artist of the USSR Bella Rudenko was pleasantly surprised with Muyassar’s performance, for every sound in the part breathed the spirit of Russian folk art. With great emotional power the singer revealed the purity of soul, steadfastness and courage of Antonida. «How did you, an Uzbek girl distant from the life of Russian nation, manage to get such a deep insight into the essence of Antonida’s personality and to sense the kernel of her character?» she would ask.

Then there was the Snow Maiden. With vivid timber colours and expressive intonations Muyassar created a radiant and poetic character of the Snow Maiden in the Rimskiy-Korsakov’s opera of the same name. Subtle and spiritual, warming with her enchanting voice and heartfelt intonations, Snow Maiden Razzakova was overwhelming with her remarkable cantilena (continuous sound) that saturates the part. These qualities were most vividly demonstrated when the Snow Maiden was asking for «a little warmth of the heart». The voice of Snow Maiden Razzakova sounded so generously when she melted and blessed everything that lived and loved! Lyricism, the birth of a personality through love, and sublime emotions became the main theme in the singer’s art.

Muyassar successfully graduated from the Conservatory and 1 was accepted by the State Academic Theatre (GABT) of Opera and Ballet named after Alisher Navoi. In 1988 the young debutante performed the part of Violetta in Verdi’s «Traviata». Through the voice of her heroine Razzakova revealed rich and complex universe of ideas and human emotions, the heroism of struggle and the meanness of betrayal, the beauty of sacrifice and the power of love. Her success after the entry aria which is ranked «among the most challenging numbers in opera, makes one confident that Razzakova has a happy and brilliant future on stage» — that was how her debut was acclaimed in the Tashkent press.

Following her successful debut, Razzakova was offered Dilorom’s part in the opera of a well-known Uzbek composer M. Ashrafi of the same name. Immortal verses of the great Uzbek poet Alisher Navoi became a literary basis (libretto) for the opera. The plot in «Dilorom» is inspired by his poem «The Seven Planets». The lead characters in the opera are Dilorom, the woman-singer, and Moni, an artist and architect. The characters embody the epic power of folk art to which Dilorom and Moni dedicated their lives. The power and depth of their love prevails over dark forces that oppose them and even over Death itself.

When working on Dilorom’s part Razzakova was assisted by the People’s Artist of the USSR Saodat Kabulova whose lessons yielded their good fruit. Performing Dilorom’s part, Razzakova does not aim to produce an outward effect upon the audience by excessive duration of sound on a high note. She is guided by the sense of proportion that protects her from mannerism and exaggerated emotions. Her voice sounded even, saturated and vivid in the entire diapason. Splendid piano and tension-free forte, the silver notes of her unusual timber, and expressive lyrics all was channelled to reveal the idea of the piece and musical and psychological definition of the character.

Later on Saodat Kabulova, the master of vocal and excellent teacher, in her conversation with Muyassar admitted that «In Dilorom you surpassed me, and your heroine is much more prominent and emotional. Your interpretation of the character is more interesting, and the ways to produce an impact upon the audience are more powerful».

At the Chaikovskiy contest, in which Razzakova participated, she became an object of attention from the famous opera singer and the People’s Artist of the USSR Irina Arkhipova who noticed the remarkable clarity of her lyrical coloratura soprano, large diapason of her voice, accuracy of imaginative thinking, understanding of composer’s concoction and style, and the accuracy of intonation, and invited Razzakova to Moscow for advanced training. But she could not go as her mother passed away, and the burden of looking after a big family was laid upon Muyassar.

The singer kept perfecting her skill, «honing» the technique. All her brilliantly performed most complex grace-notes fit into the overall emotional structure of the role and the general musical pattern as their integral part. Take, for instance, operas such as Rossini’s «The Barber from Seville», Verdi’s «Traviata» and «Masquerade», or Donizetti’s «Love Potion» and «Lucia di Lamermur».

Inexhaustible energy and hard work earned her the title of the Honoured Artist of the Republic of Uzbekistan she was awarded in 1993. Five years later the title of the People’s Artist of Uzbekistan was conferred upon her.

Muyassar Razzakova says, «The opera parts I sang (Oykhon, Dilorom, Feruza, Antonida, the Snow Maiden, Marfa, Violetta, Gilda, Leonora, Amelia, Rozina, Lucia, Adina, Madame Herz, Santuzza) have become dear to me. In each of them I lived bits of my own life, reflecting a woman’s destiny: love and suffering, joy and sorrow. Every performance turned into a festivity for me. Yet as years go by the festivities become fewer», she continues with sadness, «And I am so keen on singing the Shamakhan Queen the part I prepared myself, Floria Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Lucrezzia Borgia, and Leila from Buise’s «Peal Hunters»… Well, there is no shortage of beautiful operas!»

Gulshan Mukhamedova