Raina Kabaivanska (Bulgarian: Райна Кабаиванска) (December 15, 1934) is a Bulgarian opera singer, one of the leading lyrico-spinto sopranos of her generation, particularly associated with Verdi and Puccini, although she sang a wide range of roles.
Born Raina Jakimowa in Burgas, Bulgaria, she studied in Sofia with Prokopowa and Jossifow, and made her debut at the Bulgarian National Opera in Sofia as Tatjana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin in 1957. The following year, she left for Italy for further studies with Zina Fumagalli-Riva in Milan and with Giulia Tess in Vercelli. Two years later she made a breakthrough in Fano, Italy, as Nedda in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. In 1961, she gave her first performance at La Scala in Milan, as Agnese in Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda, opposite Dame Joan Sutherland. She sang widely in Italy, Genoa, Venice, Parma and notably in Turin in 1973, as Elena in I vespri siciliani, in the only production ever directed by Maria Callas.
In 1962, she made her debuts at both the Royal Opera House in London, as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as Nedda. She went on performing at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Paris Opéra, the Vienna State Opera, the Budapest Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, the Dallas Opera, the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, etc.
A versatile singer with a beautiful voice and fine musicianship, she is also a singing-actress of considerable ability.
Her repertory includes:
|Giuseppe Verdi||Don Carlo||Elisabeth of Valois|
|La traviata||Violetta Valery|
|La forza del destino||Leonora|
|Les vêpres siciliennes||La Duchesse Hélène|
|Giacomo Puccini||Madama Butterfly||Cio-Cio San|
|Manon Lescaut||Manon Lescaut|
|Francesco Cilea||Adriana Lecouvreur||Adriana|
|Gaetano Donizetti||Roberto Devereux||Elisabetta|
|Jules Massenet||Manon||Manon Lescaut|
|Alfredo Catalani||La Wally||Wally|
|Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky||The Queen of Spades||Lisa|
|Riccardo Zandonai||Francesca da Rimini||Francesca|
|Gasparo Spontini||La Vestale||Julia|
|Christoph Willibald Gluck||Armide||Armide|
|Leoš Janáček||The Makropulos Case||Emilia Marty|
|Franz Lehár||The Merry Widow||Hanna Glawari|
Kabaivanska has received the following international opera awards: Bellini (1965), Viotti d'Oro (1970), Puccini (1978), Illica (1979), Monteverdi (1980), the Award of Accademia 'Medici' - Lorenzo il Magnifico, Florence (1990), the Grand Prix 'A Life, Dedicated to the Music', Venice (2000).
At present, Kabaivanska is a professor at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, in Siena, Italy. She has a Master Class for performers of Puccini's works, as well as master classes in Spain, Italy and France. She is also a jury member for many prestigious competitions all over the world.
Mme Kabaivanska has recently added another role to her considerable repertoire: the Comtesse in Tchaikowsky's Queen of Spades, in a series of five performances (31 January - 19 February 2008) at the Capitole in Toulouse (France).