Aino Ackté (23.4.1876 – 8.8.1944)
Aino Ackté was one of the most celebrated sopranos of her time in Europe and a pioneer in Finnish opera. Aino Ackté’s parents were conductor-composer Lorenz Nikolai Achté and mezzosoprano Emmy Strömmer-Achté. As a child Aino Ackté studied under her mother’s tutelage. At her debut in 1893 at the age of 17 she impressed audiences with her pure and relaxed technique. She enjoyed tremendous success and the following autumn left for Paris, where she was accepted as the best among 197 applicants to the Paris Conservatory (Edmond Duvernoy and Alfred Girodet).
Upon completion of her studies three years later, she debuted at the Paris Grand Opera in 1897 and was signed on for six years as a result. Her performance as Margareta in Gounod’s Faust was a complete success. Aino Ackté sang in Paris for six years, during which time she progressed from lyrical to more dramatic parts, including Wagner. At the peak of her career Aino Ackté toured the great stages of Europe in Paris, London and Germany. She then performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera from 1904 to 1906.
Aino Ackté worked actively to support Finnish opera. She was one of the founders of the Kotimainen Ooppera, which later became the Finnish Opera and subsequently the Finnish National Opera. Aino Ackté organised an international Savonlinna Opera Festival in 1912-1914, 1916 and 1930. Ackté was also an important teacher.
Ackté ended her public performances abroad already in 1913. Her farewell performance in Finland was Tosca in 1920 at the Finnish Opera. Aino Ackté’s most famous roles during her distinguished career included Margareta in Faust, Elsa in Lohengrin, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Tosca and Richard Strauss’ Salome, her most beloved role.