Spanish mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza, one of the leading opera singers of the 20th century, died on May 13 at the age of 89. She attracted many music fans with her intelligent singing backed by advanced technique and attractive stage appearance.
She sang at the Barcelona Olympics and the opening ceremony of the Seville Expo, and in 1994 became the first woman to be elected a member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Fine Arts.
She was born in Madrid in 1935. She studied piano, cello, and organ in addition to voice at the Conservatorio de Madrid, and made her concert debut in 1955, making her operatic debut in 1957 singing Dorabella in “Cosi fan tutte” at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France. That same year she also made her debut at La Scala in Milan.
The following year she appeared at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England, and in 1959 made her debut at the Vienna State Opera as Cherubino in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” conducted by Herbert von Karajan, and at the Royal Opera in London as Rosina in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” In 1967, she appeared in “The Marriage of Figaro” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
She has excelled in the roles of Cherubino in “The Marriage of Figaro” and Rosina in “The Barber of Seville,” but her recording of Carmen, conducted by Claudio Abbado, attracted much attention for its portrayal of a character with not only sex appeal but also elegance, establishing a new image of Carmen.
In addition to her work in opera, her voice is smooth from high to low range, and she has performed many Spanish songs and zarzuelas on stage. 1991 she won the Spanish “Prince of Asturias Award” in the Arts and Letters category along with six other Spanish singers.
Her retirement from the stage was in 2008; since 2014, she has been teaching young talents by giving master classes at the Festival of Music in the French border city of Panticosa.
In 2018, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Opera Awards. The concert hall has been renamed “Teresa Berganza Auditorium” by the concert hall in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 50 km from the city of Madrid, which stretches on the slopes of Mount Abantos.
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