Birutė Almonaitytė (Eidukienė) (born on 10 May 1934 in Būbeliai (Šakiai region) – died on 5 February 2004 in Vilnius) was a Lithuanian singer, an opera singer (mezzo-soprano) and a pedagogue.
She was one of the main mezzo-sopranos of the Lithuanian opera, ‘the artist of a large artistic capacity and broad and diverse range, an intellectual, a singer of high vocal culture capable of embracing different manifestations of the art of music and turn them into the reality of musical life’. (Bruveris, 1999, p. 24)
Birutė Almonaitytė was born on 10 May 1934 in the village of Gudaičiai (in the vicinity of Kudirkos Naumiestis) into a family of wealthy enlightened farmers Pijus Almonaitis and Viktorija Katkevičiūtė-Almonaitienė. Father Pijus who learned to play the organ from the organists Dobrovolskis and Zigmantas Survila in the Church of Naumiestis, in 1927 formed a choir and conducted it. The choir presented concerts in the neighbours’ barns, took part in different celebrations, sang at Mass, also put on performances, and in 1930, participated in the Lithuanian Song Festival dedicated to the 500th death anniversary of Vytautas the Great held in Kaunas. Birutė had three brothers and the years of her childhood were spent at home where songs and music often sounded and artists used to gather. The home environment formed the children’s creative, patriotic attitude towards life based on traditional values. In 1940, the Soviet occupation, the world war and the post-war years scattered the family; in 1941, father Pijus Almonaitis died, mother Viktorija Almonaitienė was sent to a camp after the war, brother Gediminas was deported to Siberia. Though Birutė managed to avoid the deportation to Siberia, she lost home.
Birutė went to school in Kudirkos Naumiestis, under the guardianship of her aunt Salomėja Sakalauskienė she attended Kaunas evening school in Vilijampolė, sang in a choir. For two years she attended a vocal music society in Kaunas Culture Palace of Trade Unions led by the musician, the former opera singer Juozas Katelė. It was he who encouraged Birutė Almonaitytė to study music. Soon she entered the Kaunas Juozas Gruodis Music School and finished lecturer Kazys Znamenskas’ class. She was the first opera singer to have graduated from Juozas Gruodis Conservatory. In 1957, she enrolled at the Conservatory in Vilnius. In the same year Birutė Almonaitytė was also employed in the Kaunas Musical Theatre and debuted in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin in the role of Olga. Between 1958 and 1963, she studied at the Moscow Conservatory named after Pyotr Tchaikovky in V. Rozhdestvenskaya’s class.
From 1963 to 1999, Birutė Almonaitytė was a soloist at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. The young singer again debuted there in the role of Olga, and shortly after she already sang many leading mezzo-soprano parts. Her stage partners were Elena Čiudakova, Regina Tumalevičiūtė, Elena Saulevičiūtė, Marija Aleškevičiūtė, Valentinas Adamkevičius, Jonas Stasiūnas, Zenonas Paulauskas, Romanas Marijošius, the young artists Virgilijus Noreika, Vaclovas Daunoras, Eduardas Kniava and others. At that time the Theatre was headed by Vytautas Laurušas, its conductors were Rimas Geniušas and Jonas Aleksa. The soloist was fortunate to sing in the performances whose scenic design was produced by such talented scenographers as Aleksandr Benua, Mstislav Dobužinski, Liudas Truikys.
The artist sang on the opera stage for 43 years, including 36 years in the national opera, and created 49 parts. The variety of roles and the broadness of their amplitudes testify to Birutė Almonaitytė’s creative potential. Among her most prominent roles are Amneris (in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aida), Carmen (in Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen), Eboli (in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Don Carlos), Azucena (Giuseppe Verdi’s opera The Troubadour), Marina Mnishek (in Modest Musorgski’s opera Boris Godunov), Ulrika (in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera A Masked Ball), Klarisė (Sergey Prokofiev’s comic opera Love for Three Oranges), Aksinia (in Tikhon Nikolayevich Khrennikov’s opera Into the Tempest), Varvara (in Rodion Shchedrin’s opera Not Love Alone), Mother (in Vytautas Klova’s opera Two Swords and Vytautas Laurušas’ opera The Lost Birds). Birutė Almonaitytė would turn into a convincing embodiment of the most dramatic characters; she found necessary vocal and actor colours for each role she performed.
According to the conductor Rimas Geniušas, ‘educated, being a musician with good taste, she felt the ensemble instinctively, grasped immediately the essence of the role she was singing, found a lot of subtle colours herself and managed to convey them’. (Bruveris, 2014, p. 128)
She sang mezzo-soprano parts in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat, Alessandro Scarlatti and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Stabat mater, Wolfgang Amadeo Mozart Requiem. Her repertoire included gems of romantic vocal lyrics too. She sang a lot of romantic vocal lyrics – Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov. Birutė Almonaitytė brought to life the chamber repertoire of French music that was rarely performed by the Lithuanian musicians – Frances Poulenc, Claude Debussy, Arthur Honegger; Manuel de Falla, Richard Strauss. Artistic activity, a broad range of creative interests, artistic attractiveness, performance suggestion, clear, well trained mezzo-soprano and artistic interpretation of music drew attention of Lithuanian composers too. The soloist sang vocal lyrics by modern Lithuanian authors a lot; she often was the first performer and promoter of their compositions and encouraged more than one composer to create. She left an abundant discography of Lithuanian songs; she was one of the most recorded artists. The soloists toured many European countries – the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Denmark, the USA, Portugal, Ireland, Latvia, Russia, Germany, Estonia, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and North America. She gave concerts not only in the largest Lithuanian cities but in smaller towns as well.
In 1977, she was awarded the title of Merited Artist and in 1987 the Honorary Title of People’s Artist of Lithuania was bestowed upon her.
Birutė Almonaitytė did pedagogical work at Vilnius Choir Singing School Liepaitės, from 1995 she was the Head of the Vocal Department of that school.
She bade farewell to her career on stage in 2000. Her last role was Chipra in Johann Strauss’ opera The Gypsy Baron. Compositions performed by Birutė Almonaitytė are recorded in 7 records; more than 200 records are kept in the stocks of Lithuanian Radio.
Her partners characterise her as a person who was always irreproachably prepared, as a reliable partner, never failing, unyielding to unexpectedness, doing everything safely and exactly on stage. Naturalness and truthfulness were characteristic of her both on stage and in her everyday life. According to Jonas Bruveris, natural, inherent integrity was typical of Birutė Almonaitytė. ‘Her artistry was not acted out, not feigned because the singer belonged to that type of artists who loves and treasures art in themselves rather than themselves in art.’ (Bruveris, 1999, p. 22)
Birutė Almonaitytė died in Vilnius on 5 February 2004. She is buried in Antakalnis Cemetery. The sculptor Antans Kuzma created the funerary monument.
The film Variations on the Theme of the Portrait has been made about Birutė Almonaitytė, the author of the screenplay is Kazimieras Garlauskas.
Since 2005 Birutė Almonaitytė Children and Youth Solo Singing Festival dedicated to honouring the memory of the singer, which is organised by Vilnius Choir Singing School Liepaitės, has been held.
Prepared by Aldona Juodelienė
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2. Andrikonytė Asta. „Birutė Almonaitytė balsuoja už operą“. Lietuvos rytas, Mūzų malūnas, 1997 gruodžio 9 d.
3. „Birutė Almonaitytė: dainininkės gyvenimas, kūryba, mintys, bičiulių žodžiai“ / parengė Jonas Bruveris. Vilnius, 1999, 190 p.
4. „Su Birute Almonaityte: dainininkės gyvenimas, kūryba, mintys, kolegų ir artimųjų prisiminimai“ / parengė Jonas Bruveris ir Rūta Gaidamavičiūtė. Vilnius, 2014, 262 p.
5. Dumbliauskaitė Lina. „Birutė Almonaitytė atsisveikino su scena“. Muzikos barai, 2000, Nr. 3/4, p. 12.
6. Jonaitytė Sofija. „Dainininkai – laimingiausi muzikantai“. Muzikos barai, 2005, Nr. 5/6, p. 10.
7. Juodpusis Vaclovas. Almonaitytė, Eidukienė, Birutė. Muzikos enciklopedija, 2000, T. 1, p. 43
8. Kalpokaitė Vlada. „Primadonos spindesys be primadoniško aištingumo“. Respublika, 2004 12 15
9. Kauzonas Ferdinandas. „Vėl skambėjo Birutės daina“. Respublika, 2001 04 03
10. Lozoraitis Julius. „Dainininkės balsas nesiliauja skambėjęs“. Lietuvos žinios, 2004, gruodžio 10, p. 9.
11. Lozoraitis Julius. „Auksinis mecosoprano ruduo“. Respublika, 1995, spalio 18 d.
12. Lozoraitis Julius. „Operos dainininkė atsisveikina su teatro scena“. Lietuvos rytas, 200 01 28
13. Markeliūnienė Vytautė. „Birutė Almonaitytė – dainininkė be primadonos kompleksų“. Lietuvos aidas, 1997 11 19
14. Birutė Almonaitytė-Eidukienė. Vilnijos vartai. Prieiga per internetą: http://www.vilnijosvartai.lt/personalijos/birute-almonaityte-eidukiene/
15. Andrikonytė Asta. Dainininkė B. Almonaitytė tapo žvaigžde, nors to nesiekė. Prieiga per internetą: https://kultura.lrytas.lt/scena/2014/12/16/news/dainininke-b-almonaityte-tapo-zvaigzde-nors-to-nesieke-4308146/
Song of Spring – Varenka
„Akulina“ / – Anet
Eugene Onegin – Olga
„Iolanta“ / – Laura
"Kelionė į Tilžę“ / Journey to Tilsit – Bušė
„Kristijonas“ – Ana Regina
Prince Igor – Konchakovna
Lucia di Lammermoor – Alisa
„Dalia“ – Motina / Mother
„Buratinas“ – Lapė, Vėžlienė
Porgy and Bess / Strawberry woman
„Faust“ / – Siebel, Martha
Hansel and Gretel – The Witch
„Ave, vita“ – Mergina baliuje / The girl at the party
„Du kalavijai“ / Two Swords – Motina / Mother
„Pilėnai“ – Mirta
„In the Storm“ / – Aksinja
„Paklydę paukščiai“ / Stray Birds – Motina / Mother
„Der Wildschutz“ / – Countess von Eberbach
„Manon“ / – Rosette
„Werther“ / – Carlotte
„The Marriage of Figaro“ / – Marzellina
„Boris Godunov“ – Marina Mniszech
„Kryžkelėje“ / At the crossroads – Vidūno sesuo / Vidunas sister
The Love for Three Oranges – Clarisse
The cunning Ants – The Devil
„Tosca“ – A Shepherd boy
„Saulės miestas“ / The City of the Sun – Akla baudžiauninkė / The blind serf
„Aleko“ – Gypsy woman
The Demon – The Angel
„Not Only Love“ / – Varvara
„Gypsy Baron“ / – Czipra
Eugene Onegin – Olga, a nanny
The Queen of Spades – Milovzor
„Aida“ – Amneris
„Don Carlos – Eboli
Un ballo in maschera – Ulrica
„Rigoletto“ – Maddalena, Giovanna
„Otello“ – Emilia
La traviata – Flora
Il trovatore – Azucena
„The Bear“ – Popova
Missa in B minor
Symphony No. 9
Cantata On the Motherland
Cantata „Ąžuolų vainikas“ / Oak-Leaves' Wreath
Missa brevis in D major, KV 194
opera Dido and Aeneas – Sorceress
oratorio Paradise and the Peri
25 Scottish Songs, op. 108
„Jūra“ / The Sea
Seven Spanish Folksongs
„Vaikas su duonos rieke“ / A Child with a Slice of Bread
„Mergaitė namų šešėliuose“ / A Girl in the Shadows at Home
„Vizija“ / Visions
poem „Bičiulystė“ / Amity
„Dainavos triptikas“ / Dainava Triptych
vokalinis ciklas „Afrikos horizontai“ / African horizons
Frauen-Liebe und Leben
Songs of Valentinas Bagdonas, Eduardas Balsys, Justinas Bašinskas, Antanas Belazaras, Algimantas Bražinskas, Konstancija Brundzaitė, Viktoras Budrevičius, Balys Dvarionas, Juozas Indra, Vytautas Kairiūkštis, Juozas Karosas, Vytautas Klova, Vytautas Laurušas, Jonas Nabažas, Juozas Naujalis, Vytautas Paltanavičius, Vaclovas Paketūras, Antanaso Račiūnas, Algimantas Raudonikis, Česlovas Sasnauskas, Mindaugas Urbaitis, Rimvydas Žigaitis