Beatriz Parra Durango
Ecuador's foremost classical soprano, Beatriz Parra Durango was born in Guayaquil in 1940. Her mother was the journalist Dora Durango Lopez. Parra Durango was married to Enrique Gil with whom she had her only daughter, the vedette Beatriz Gil Parra. Her first studies took place at the Conservatory Antonio Neumane in the city of Guayaquil, where she became the soloist of the Conservatory's choir. In 1957 she received her first prize when she participated in the competition "Searching for a Voice in Ecuador", organized by the House of Culture and Radio CRE. During that same year she became part of the cast of the Lyrical Ensemble of the House of Culture, and in 1958 she performed for the first time as a soloist onstage in the role of Duchess Carolina in the zarzuela "Luisa Fernanda". In 1959 she sang the lead role in the Spanish Opera Marina under the direction of the Spanish Maestro Carlos Arijita.
In 1960 she travelled to Moscow thanks to a scholarship given by the Ministry of Culture of the then USSR, and studied classical singing at the Moscow Conservatory, studying under the singer Nina Dorliak, wife to the pianist Sviatoslav Richter. She graduated with the Award For Excellency in 1966. In 1965 she won the silver medal and second place in the International Vocal Competition organized by the city of Toulouse, France. She sang as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Moscow and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. That same year she received the gold medal in the Musical Competition of George Enesco, Romania.
She has also attained several first places in vocal competitions in Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela, and has sung in some of the best Opera houses in the world. In 1975 she received the award "Conchita Badía" in Santiago de Compostela.
For fifteen years she was a prima donna and soloist with the ColombiaOpera Theater, where her repertoire included verismo such as Verdi and Puccini, Romanticists such as Donizetti and Classicists such as Mozart. She has performed the role of Michaela in the opera Carmen by Bizet on the stage of the Bolshoi Opera House . In the fall of 2001 she was a guest performer of the Iberoamerican Culture Festival.
Currently, although she has retired from the scenic world, she teaches voice regularly as head of the Beatriz Parra Foundation, along with the Armenian baritone Konstantin Simonian. Today, Beatriz Parra remains the only Ecuadorean vocalist to attain such a high level of achievement in the operatic world.
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