Russian Opera Diva Vishnevskaya Dies at 86

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 01:11 PM

Russian opera diva Galina Vishnevskaya, who conquered audiences all over the world with her rich soprano, has died. Vishenvskaya, widow of famed cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, was 86.

Moscow's Opera Center, which Vishnevskaya created, said the singer died Tuesday in the Russian capital. It didn't give the cause.

Vishnevskaya joined Moscow's Bolshoi Theater in 1952, making her debut as Tatiana in Yevgeny Onegin. She performed dozens of soprano roles in Russian and European opera classics.

She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Aida in 1961 and first sang Liu in Turandot in La Scala in 1964.

From 1955 and until his death in 2007, Vishnevskaya was married to Rostropovich.

They frequently performed together, and used their star status in the Soviet Union to help friends in trouble, including writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn whom they sheltered at their dacha when he was facing official reprisals.

After Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the country, Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich left the Soviet Union with their two daughters in 1974. They lived in Paris and then Washington, and were stripped of their Soviet citizenship in 1978.

They returned to Russia after the Soviet collapse and became involved in public activities and charitable work.

Vishnevskaya, survived by her two daughters, will be buried Friday at Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery alongside her husband.

President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences, praising the singer's "remarkable talent, strong will, nobleness and self-dignity."


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Comments [3]

concetta nardone from Nassau

I remember reading somewhere that the premier (forgot which one) had his eye on her (actually both eyes). That is why they left. Nothing like the abuse of power to have you flee. Do not know if this is true.

Dec. 13 2012 03:02 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institution, Boonton, NJ

I remember GALINA VISHNEVSKAYA at the MET as Aida and at the old MADISON SQUARE GARDEN singing arias with her husband cellist MYSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH conducting the orchestra. Her singing voice had a fullness, roundness, richness with a unique rare, instantly recognizable timbre. Their appearances together provided treasurable memories to their audiences. My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. It and my Gott ! welch Dunkel hier ! from FIDELIO and the Sound an Alarm from JUDAS MACCABAEUS can be heard from the SOLO TEN LANGUAGE CARNEGIE HALL live performance on my three websites,, ,, and by downloading, FREE, at the RECORDED SELECTIONS venue. They received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. At the websites one may hear my singing of RIENZI, SIEGFRIED, GOTTERDAMMERUNG SIEGFRIED, PARSIFAL, LOHENGRIN, TRISTAN, WALTHER VON STOLZING, SIEGMUND and FLORESTAN. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. In another commentary on one commented about all operas that were once NEW but now not new anymore should be archived like museum pieces. That implies that just being new is better than old. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. However, I would not trade any living composer for Bach, Beethoven, Mpzart, Verdi, Puccini or Wagner. Revere and enjoy the MASTERPIECES of art, music, literature, architecture and science in its multiple formats . I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles.

Dec. 11 2012 10:41 PM
Ed LaMance from NYC

A stunning performer; a powerful, luscious voice. The US knows her mostly through her recordings. Her appearance at the Met as Aida is legendary. If memory serves, she sang it in Russian (or perhaps it was an unscheduled Butterfly).

Dec. 11 2012 03:38 PM

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