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 Galina Vishnevskaya

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Galina Vishnevskaya

  • Birth 25 Oct 1926 Saint Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia
  • Death 11 Dec 2012 Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
  • Burial Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
  • Memorial ID 102037112

Opera Singer. A dramatic soprano of wide repertoire, she starred in many of the world's leading venues. Born Galina Pavlovna Ivanova, she was raised in what was then Leningrad under conditions of abject poverty and took to music early but saw her professional development delayed by World War II. After the siege was broken in 1944 she began working in music halls and singing operetta in her native city, taking her stage name from a brief early marriage. In 1952 Galina won an audition for Moscow's Bolshoi Opera and soon established herself as the theatre's prima donna, her signature piece probably being Tatyana from Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin". Singing around 30 roles at the Bolshoi up thru 1974, she earned special praise as Marina from Modest Mussorgsky's "Boris Godonov" and as Natasha from Sergei Prokofiev's "War and Peace". In 1955 Galina married her third husband, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, but despite the couple's star status they still had to endure the indignities of the Soviet system, with little or no artistic freedom and with Galina sometimes openly 'hit on' by political leaders. As time went on she was to add further parts to her repertoire among them Leonore of Verdi's "Il Trovatore", the title leads of Puccini's "Tosca" and "Madame Butterfly", Cherubino from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", Violetta in Verdi's "La Traviata", and the highly acclaimed Katerina of Dimitri Shostakovich's "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk". In 1959 she undertook an extended tour of the United States and in 1961 she returned for her Metropolitan Opera debut as the title Ethiopian Princess of Verdi's "Aida"; she was to use the same role for her 1962 bow at London's Covent Garden and in 1964 was first heard at La Scala Milano as Liu in Puccini's "Turandot". In 1962 Benjamin Britten composed the "War Requiem" for her and though the Communist bosses would not allow her to travel to England for the premiere she does appear on the original recording. Named People's Artist of the USSR in 1966 she began courting official disfavor by opposing the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Things got worse after the pair provided sanctuary to dissident poet Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1969 and while Galina received the Order of Lenin in 1971 by that time she and Slava were essentially unpersons in their native land. Allowed to leave the Soviet Union in 1974 they were quickly in high demand throughout the world, with Galina earning rave reviews as Tosca in 1975 at the Metropolitan, and though they were emotionally crushed when stripped of their Russian citizenship in 1978 they were financially secure. The couple relocated to Washington when Slava became maestro of the National Symphony Orchestra; Galina bade farewell to the stage with 1982 Paris performances as Tatyana, published a 1984 autobiography entitled "Galina: A Russian Story", then in 1987 directed a well received production of "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" for the Washington National Opera. By 1990 the Soviet Union's days were numbered and she and her husband found themselves invited home by President Mikhail Gorbachev with their citizenship restored then in 1991 Slava's support proved invaluable to Boris Yeltsin when a Communist coup tried to topple him. Galina remained active, started her own theatre for the development of young singers, eventually fell-out with the Bolshoi and refused to celebrate her 80th. birthday there as she considered the company too modern, and in 2007 played a grandmother in the movie "Alexandra" which was screened at Cannes. Galina lived out her days in the Russian capital; at her death much of her massive recorded legacy remained in print.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 11 Dec 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 102037112
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Galina Vishnevskaya (25 Oct 1926–11 Dec 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 102037112, citing Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .