May 6, 1941|
|Died||June 11, 2005
|Occupation||Opera singer (soprano)|
Ghena Dimitrova (Bulgarian: Гeна Димитpова) (6 May 1941–11 June 2005) was a Bulgarian operatic soprano. Her voice was known for its power and extension used in operatic roles such as Turandot in a career spanning four decades.
Ghena Dimitrova was born in the Bulgarian village of Beglezh, some 25 km from Pleven, in 1941. She started singing in the school choir and her powerful voice led to her being offered a place at the Sofia Conservatory studying under Cristo Brambarov between 1959 and 1964. While she was initially classified as a mezzo-soprano, she was recognised as a soprano in her second year.
After finishing her studies at the Sofia Conservatory, she started teaching singing. Her breakthrough came in 1967 as Abigaille in a Bulgarian National Opera production of Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco after a couple of other sopranos dropped out. In the early recordings Dimitrova's voice had not yet reached its signature size, and in many of the early Nabucco productions, the final optional high C is omitted in the cabaletta, Salgo già, which she would include later in her career.
She made her Italian debut as Turandot in Treviso in 1975, and essayed the same role for her 1983 La Scala debut opposite tenor Plácido Domingo in Franco Zeffirelli's lavish production. Her Turandot is also preserved in a video of the Arena di Verona production from 1983, with Nicola Martinucci and Cecilia Gasdia. In 1988, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York performing the same role.
Dimitrova once said of the role: "Turandot may not be my favorite part, but it shows off the voice to great advantage. The way the music is written, you need a voice like a trumpet to do it justice."
Her debut in the United States was in 1981 performing the role of Elvira in Ernani. She sang at the Barbican Arts Centre in Ponchielli's La Gioconda in 1983 before making her Covent Garden debut in the same year. Her late debut she later attributed simply to "politics".
After retiring from the stage in 2001, Dimitrova remained active working with young singers. One of her best students is the soprano Elena Baramova.
Dimitrova died in Milan on 11 June 2005. After her death the Bulgarian Government promised to establish a fund in her name for promising young singers.