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May 25, 2020

Sopranos Galina Visnevskaia and Lisa Della Casa have passed away

Russian opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya, who performed soprano roles in Russian and European opera classics has died aged 86, bbc.co.uk informs. Moscow’s Opera Centre, which Vishnevskaya created, said the singer died on Tuesday in the Russian capital. Spokeswoman Yulia Ivanova said she had been treated in Germany and was surrounded by her loved ones at her country house when she died. In a career spanning 40 years, Vishnevskaya joined Moscow’s Bolshoy Theatre in 1953. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Aida in 1961 and first sang Liu in Turandot in La Scala in 1964. Known for her full-on style, Vishnevskaya was not always to everyone’s taste, but her emotional involvement in the music left a big impact on audiences. Her dramatic interpretations of soprano roles in the likes of Lady Macbeth by Soviet composer Dmitry Shostakovich and the War Requiem of British composer Benjamin Britten led some music critics to call her the Russian Maria Callas. Soviet audiences also loved her for her great interpretations of the standard repertoire including the great heroines of Puccini and Verdi. Vishnevskaya was married to the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and the couple performed together frequently until his death in 2007. They are also known for their defiance against the communist regime at the time and provided a safe home to dissident writer Aleksandr Soljenitsin, which led to their being stripped of Soviet citizenship and having to go into exile.  Former Soviet president Mihail Gorbaciov, who restored the Visnevskaia-Rostropovici couple their citizenship in 1990, praised their availability to help a fellow human being. ‘They were people who excelled not just in their art, but also helped those in need,’ the former Soviet leader said. President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to the aggrieved family, eulogizing the soprano for her ‘outstanding talent, strong will, her noblesse and dignity.’ Mihail Svidkoi, Putin’s international cultural relations representative, too, bemoaned her death as a ‘great loss not only to Russia, but world culture as well’. The bad news doesn’t stop here. Lisa della Casa (photo), a Swiss-born soprano known for her sweet voice and exquisite elegance, aged 93, has died on Monday, in the Swiss town of Muensterlingen, the Vienna Opera announced Tuesday. The late English music critic Sir Neville Cardus reportedly once said of Della Casa that one should go to her concerts twice: once to listen, once to look. The soprano “possessed an instrument of crystalline purity,” a Times reviewer wrote about her landmark recording of Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs.”Della Casa was born February 2, 1919, in Burgdorf, Switzerland, and trained in Zurich. The young singer’s first performance came in 1941 for Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” in the Swiss town of Solothurn-Biel. She remained in neutral Switzerland during World War II. After the war she went on to sing on the world’s other great opera stages, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House and La Scala. She was a member of the Vienna State Opera, where she appeared 411 times. Della Casa went on to perform many of the great roles, including in such operas as “La Boheme” and “Rigoletto.” But she was especially known for her interpretations of Strauss and Mozart, notably in Strauss’ “Arabella,” “Der Rosenkavalier” and “Ariadne of Naxos,” and in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” “The Marriage of Figaro” and “The Magic Flute.” She often returned to the role of the Countess in “The Marriage of Figaro,” which she sang regularly in Europe and at The Met. Critics loved her serene voice and audiences were said to respond as well to her acting style and her radiance.

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