Galina Vishnevskaya

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For the Kazakhstani biathlete, see Galina Vishnevskaya (biathlete).
Galina Vishnevskaya
Galina Vishnevskaya edit 2.jpg
Galina Vishnevskaya in 2008
Background information
Birth name Galina Pavlovna Ivanova
Born (1926-10-25)25 October 1926
Saint Petersburg
Died 11 December 2012(2012-12-11) (aged 86)
Moscow, Russia
Genres Classical
Years active 1944–1982

Galina Pavlovna Vishnevskaya (née Ivanova, Russian: Гали́на Па́вловна Вишне́вская; 25 October 1926 – 11 December 2012) was a Russian soprano opera singer and recitalist who was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1966. She was also the wife of world-famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and mother to two daughters, Olga and Elena Rostropovich.

Biography[edit]

Vishnevskaya was born in Leningrad. She made her professional stage debut in 1944 singing operetta. After a year studying with Vera Nikolayevna Garina, she won a competition held by the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (with Rachmaninoff's song "O, Do Not Grieve" and Verdi's aria "O patria mia" from Aida) in 1952. The next year, she became a member of the Bolshoi Theatre.[1]

On 9 May 1960, she made her first appearance in Sarajevo at the National Theatre, as Aida. In 1961, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Aida; the following year she made her debut at the Royal Opera House with the same role.[1] For her La Scala debut in 1964, she sang Liù in Turandot, opposite Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli.

In addition to the roles in the Russian operatic repertoire, Vishnevskaya also sang roles such as Violetta, Tosca, Cio-cio-san, Leonore, and Cherubino.

Benjamin Britten wrote the soprano role in his War Requiem (completed 1962) specially for her, though the USSR prevented her from traveling to Coventry Cathedral for the premiere performance. The USSR eventually allowed her to leave in order to make the first recording of the Requiem.

Vishnevskaya was married to the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich from 1955 until his death in 2007; they performed together regularly (he on piano or on the podium). Both she and Rostropovich were friends of Dmitri Shostakovich, and they made an electrifying recording of his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for EMI. According to Robert Conquest, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn stayed at their dacha from 1968 while writing much of The Gulag Archipelago.[2]

Galina Vishnevskaya with husband Mstislav Rostropovich

In 1974, the couple asked the Soviet government for an extended leave and left the Soviet Union. Eventually they settled in the United States and Paris. In 1982, the soprano bade farewell to the opera stage, in Paris, as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. In 1987, she stage directed Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride in Washington, D.C. In 1984, Vishnevskaya published a memoir, Galina: A Russian Story (ISBN 0-15-134250-4), and in 2002, she opened her own opera theatre in Moscow, the "Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre".[1]

In 2006, she was featured in Alexander Sokurov's documentary Elegy of a life: Rostropovich, Vishnevskaya. In 2007, she starred in his film Alexandra, playing the role of a grandmother coming to see her grandson in the Second Chechen War. The film premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.[3] In the last week of her life, she was awarded a supreme state honour by President Vladimir Putin.[4]

On 11 December 2012, Vishnevskaya died at the age of 86 in Moscow.[5]

Recordings[edit]

The diva made many recordings, including Eugene Onegin (1956 and 1970), Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death (1961 and 1976), Britten's War Requiem (with Sir Peter Pears and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, conducted by the composer; 1963), The Poet's Echo (1968), Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (1970 and 1987), Puccini's Tosca (1976), Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades (with Regina Resnik, 1976), Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1978), Tchaikovsky's Iolanta (with Nicolai Gedda, 1984), and Prokofiev's War and Peace (1986).

Honours and awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kandell, Jonathan (11 December 2012). "Galina Vishnevskaya, Soprano and Dissident, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Robert Conquest, Solzhenitsyn Was a Russian Patriot, Wall Street Journal (8 August 2008)
  3. ^ Galina Vishnevskaya, Now 80, Finds New Success as Film Actress, PLAYBILLArts (31 May 2007)
  4. ^ Norman Lebrecht (5 December 2012). "Galina Vishnevskaya receives supreme honour from president Putin". Arts Journal. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Norman Lebrecht (11 December 2012). "Galina Vishnevskaya has died". Arts Journal. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 

External links[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Russian Wikipedia.