World Famous Opera Singer Born in the Great Steppe

Compared to five hundred years of opera history and theaters with centuries of history, the Academic Opera and Ballet Theater built in Mongolia, the birthplace of Genghis Khan, may seem young, but it was the very first professional theater in Asia with a fascinating and glorious history.  Since then, the chronicle of Mongolian operatic art has been counted, and until present day there are about fifty national and world classical opera works, such as “Tears of a Lama”, “Three Sad Hills”, “Chio Chio San”, “La Boheme”, “Tosca”, “Aida”, “The Magic Flute”, “The Barber of Seville” are performed on this golden stage.

In 2005, G.Ariunbaatar, the middle son of an ordinary herder, entered the University of Arts and Culture, a leader in training artists for the theater that Mongolians call “pink theater” and other theaters, ensembles and orchestras.  He also loved to sing, like other children while grazing sheep in the steppe.  When he came to the capital with his dream of becoming a singer, he was met and accepted as a student by the famous opera singer O. Ichinhorloo.

Ariunbaatar from his student years worked as a singer in the “Suld” ensemble of the Central Police Department and in 2011 received a special Pavel Lisitsin prize , having won the XXIV International M. I. Glinka competition of opera vocalists in Moscow in the nomination “Best Baritone”. Since 2014, he studied under the guidance of the People’s Artist of Russia Darima Linkhovoin and in the same year won first place in the III Muslim Magomayev International Vocal Competition. The following year, in 2015, he achieved great success receiving the First Prize (Gold Medal) and the Grand Prix at the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition of Professional Vocalists.  His main mentor Darima Linkhovoin in her interview – “He achieved great success while participating in the P. Tchaikovsky competition. I was very proud of G. Ariunbaatar when the judges, having heard his performance in the first round, said that it became clear who would be the winner.”

Ariunbaatar, who worked at the Buryat State Opera and Ballet Theater in Ulan-Ude, near Lake Baikal, full of secrets and magic in the vast Russian Far East, traveled more than 6,000 kilometers and arrived in the northern capital of Russia, St. Petersburg. A simple Mongolian guy from the steppes, who became a world performer, began working as a guest soloist on the legendary stage of the Mariinsky Theater with a 240-year history, named after the Russian Empress Maria Alexandrovna, which is located on the Theater Square.  During this period, he revived on stage the roles of Rigoletto from the opera “Rigoletto” by G. Verdi, Amonasro from the opera “Aida”, Count Di Luna from the opera “Il Trovatore”, Giorgio Germont from the opera “La Traviata”, Renato from the opera “Un Ballo in Maschera”, Baron Scarpia from composer J. Puccini’s opera “Tosca” and the role of Yeletsky from the opera “The Queen of Spades” by P. I. Tchaikovsky.

Confirming his success shown at the Tchaikovsky Competition, in 2017 he won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition together with the Scottish singer Catriona Morrison in the nomination “The Song Prize”, which is organized every two years, in the UK, the capital of Wales, the city of Cardiff.  The judge of the competition, the famous vocal coach of opera, Mary King, during the final performance of G. Ariunbaatar, could not hold back her tears.  He was truly able to win the admiration of the Western public. The Guardian journalist and music critic Kate Mollson traveled to his homeland, Mongolia, which was able to preserve its thousand-year-old tradition and virgin nature, to unravel the mystery of the phenomenon named Ariunbaatar and wrote in her article how she experienced Mongolian rich musical tradition first hand.

The young singer, who is no more than 30 years old, is the owner of the highest awards, such as the “Order of Genghis Khan”, the title of Honored Artist of Mongolia and the Cultural Ambassador.  He has performed at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Queen Elizabeth II’s Buckingham Palace  in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Cadogan Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York.

Music critic Kate Mollson noted that Ariunbaatar’s victory is not an accident that in 2015 at the competition in Cardiff Enkhbatyn Amartuvshin, who represented Mongolia for the first time, reached the final, then in 2017 the successful participation of tenor Batzhargalyn Bayarsaikhan.  Indeed, there are many Mongolian opera singers on the world opera stage.  For example, a close friend of G. Ariunbaatar, People’s Artist of Mongolia, Cultural Ambassador, Enkhbat Amartuvshin, winner of the “Best Baritone in the World” award, which inspired him to opera singing, performs on prestigious stages in Paris, Moscow, New York, Beijing, Seoul and Singapore such as the British Royal Opera House, the Teatro Regio Di Parma, the Teatro Regio Torino, the Palau De Les Arts Reina Sofia.

Mongolians love to sing and have a rich musical tradition.  In addition to heroic stories and pristine nature to share with others, we also have a world-class musical heritage.

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