Ileana Cotrubaș

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Ileana Cotrubaș
Born (1939-06-09) 9 June 1939 (age 83)
Galați, Romania
Occupation(s)Operatic soprano
Years active1964–present

Ileana Cotrubaș (Romanian: [iˈle̯ana kotruˈbaʃ] (listen); born 9 June 1939) is a Romanian operatic soprano whose career spanned from the 1960s to the 1980s. She was much admired for her acting skills and facility for singing opera in many different languages.

Life and career[edit]

Cotrubaș was born in Galați.[1][2] She grew up in a musical family; her father, Vasile, was a tenor in an amateur choir. Cotrubaș' musical career began at the age of nine when she became a member of a children's radio choir.[1] By the age of eleven, she was one of its leading soloists. In 1952, she moved to Bucharest to study at the Școala Specială de Muzică school for the musically gifted. Cotrubaș made her stage debut with the Bucharest Opera as Yniold in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande in 1964.[1] She subsequently expanded her repertory to include roles such as Oscar in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Blonde in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio and began appearing in productions throughout Europe.

In 1965, Cotrubaș won the International Vocal Competition 's-Hertogenbosch in Netherlands,[1] where she won first prize in opera, lieder, and oratorio. The following year, she won the ARD International Music Competition in Munich.[1] Those awards, together with her great success in the role of Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at Brussels, led to appearances in the Vienna State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Berlin State Opera and Salzburg Festival, and to a contract with the Oper Frankfurt in 1968.[1]

In 1969, she made her UK debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Mélisande,[1] and sang two succeeding seasons there in the title role of Cavalli's Calisto. She made her début at the Royal Opera House in London in 1971 as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.[1] Cotrubaș signed a three-year contract with the Vienna State Opera in 1970. During her time there, she learned the roles of Susanna in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, the title role in Verdi's La traviata, Mimi in Puccini's La bohème, and Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.[3]

In 1973, she made her American operatic debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Mimì, and at Glyndebourne sang Susanna opposite the Figaro of Knut Skram. Cotrubaș made her international breakthrough on 7 January 1975, when she replaced Mirella Freni at La Scala as Mimi. She had to fly from her home in Kent and arrived 15 minutes before curtain time. Her interpretation was acclaimed by critics and audiences alike.

Cotrubaș made her Metropolitan Opera debut on 23 March 1977, as Mimi[1] in a production with José Carreras and Renata Scotto.[4] While with the Met, she appeared as Gilda, opposite Plácido Domingo and Cornell MacNeil, in a televised performance of Rigoletto on 7 November 1977, and as Violetta, again opposite Domingo and MacNeil, in a televised performance of La traviata on 28 March 1981. She sang three other roles at the Met: Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo (in its Metropolitan Opera premiere), Tatyana, and Micaëla in Bizet's Carmen, the role of her final performance with the company on 26 March 1987.[4]

Cotrubaș is well known for being very demanding of directors and colleagues. On several occasions — Eugene Onegin in Vienna in 1973 and Don Pasquale at the Met in 1980 — she walked out of productions when she disagreed with the stage director.[citation needed]

Cotrubaș retired from public singing in 1990, but continued to teach, giving master classes and coaching promising young singers, including Elena Tsallagova.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kutsch, K. J.; Riemens, Leo (2012). Cotrubaș, Ileana. Großes Sängerlexikon (in German) (4th ed.). De Gruyter. p. 901. ISBN 978-3-59-844088-5.
  2. ^ Rosenthal, H.; Warrack, J., eds. (1979). Cotrubaș, Ileana. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera (in German) (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 101–111. ISBN 978-3-59-844088-5.
  3. ^ "Vorstellungen mit Ileana Cotrubas". Vienna State Opera. Retrieved 9 March 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Cotrubas, Ileana (Soprano)". Retrieved 9 March 2022.

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