Maya Kuliyeva PAU (Turkmen: Maýa Kulyýewa) (May 1, 1920 – April 27, 2018) was a Turkmeni operatic soprano and actress of the Soviet era.
Born Mamadjan Kuliyeva in the neighborhood of Bezmein (today’s Abadan) in Poltoratsk (today Ashgabat), Kuliyeva, a lyric soprano, studied at the Turkmenistan branch of the Moscow Conservatory from 1938 until 1941. Beginning in the latter year she was a member of the company at the Turkmen Theater of Opera and Ballet; she was the first to perform roles in Western operas on the Turkmenistan stage. She also created roles in numerous operas by composers from the Turkmen SSR and other Central Asian republics; among these were roles in Shasenem and Gharib, The Rose and the Nightingale, and Zohre and Tahir by Adrian Shaposhnikov and Abadan by Ashir Kuliev. Other roles in her repertoire included Marfa in The Tsar’s Bride by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Marguerite in Faust by Charles Gounod, and the title role in Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. During her career she appeared in a handful of films as well. For her work she received multiple awards during her career; she was named an Honored Artist of the Turkmen SSR in 1943, and became a People’s Artist of the Turkmen SSR in 1952. Three years later she was awarded the title People’s Artist of the USSR. In 2008 she was named a Hero of Turkmenistan. During her career she also received the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, and the Order of the Badge of Honour. She was a deputy of the Supreme Council of the Turkmen SSR at its second and fourth meetings. Kuliyeva, who is said to have been a “Party organiser” during the Soviet era, continued to receive recognition from the Government of Turkmenistan after the breakup of the Soviet Union. In 2010 it was reported that she still had final say over all matters of opera performance in Turkmenistan. Kuliyeva died on April 27, 2018, four days before what would have been her 98th birthday.