Entertainment & Arts

Russian opera singer Vishnevskaya dies aged 86

Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich
Image caption Vishnevskaya was known for her intense performance style

Russian opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya, who performed soprano roles in Russian and European opera classics has died aged 86.

In a career spanning 40 years, Vishnevskaya joined Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre in 1953.

She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Aida in 1961 and first sang Liu in Turandot in La Scala in 1964.

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.

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 born in what was then Leningrad and survived the city's blockade by Nazi Germany during World War II, serving in missile defence troops when she was a teenager.

She studied in Leningrad, after which she was accepted into Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre.

Vishnevskaya married the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in 1955 and the couple performed together frequently until his death in 2007.

The couple left the Soviet Union with their two daughters in 1974 and lived in Paris and then Washington, before returning to Russia after the Soviet collapse.

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