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Galina Vishnevskaya (Singer)

Galina Vishnevskaya, the great Russian diva, USSR Peoples’ artist was born in Leningrad (now Saint-Petersburg). She made her debut in 1944 as a soloist in the Leningrad Operetta theatre, and in 50s Galina’s big stage career commenced. Galina Vishevskaya created more than thirty unforgettable female characters in the Russian and west-European opera chefs-d’oeuvres during her 22-year-long artistic career at the Bolshoi theatre from 1952 – to 1974.

After a brilliant debut as Tatyana in the “Eugene Onegin” opera, she performed as Ada and Violetta (“Ada” and “La Traviata” by Verdi), Cio-Ciosan (“Madama Butterfly” by Puccini), Natasha Rostova (“War and Peace” by Prokofiev), Katarina (“Taming of the Shrew” by Shebalin, she was the first to ever perform it in 1957), Lisa (“Queen of Spades” by Tchaikovsky), Kupava (“Snow Maiden” by Rimsky-Korsakov), Marfa (“Tsar’s Bride”) and many others. Vishnevskaya participated in the first Russian production of “The Gambler” opera by Prokofiev (part of Polina, 1974), “The Human Voice” mono-opera by Poulenc in 1965, starred in the “Katerina Izmailova” opera-film (directed by M. Shapiro in 1966).

Under the Soviet regime Galina Vishnevskaya opposed the authorities. She and her husband Mstislav Rostropovitch, the great cellist and conductor, supported an eminent Russian writer and defender of human rights Alexandre Solzhenitsyn. That was one of the reasons why the couple was exposed to particular attention and pressure of the USSR intelligence service. In 1974 Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovitch left the Soviet Union and in 1978 were deprived of the soviet citizenship. They settled in the USA, and then the couple lived in France and in Great Britain. Galina Vishnevskaya starred in the greatest opera theatres of the world: Covent Garden, Metropolitan-Opera, Grande Opera, La Scala, and Munich Opera, performing with the most celebrated masters of opera and theatre arts.

Galina played the part of Marina in a unique opera record of “Boris Godunov” (directed by Herbert von Karajan, soloists – N. Guyarov, M. Talvella, L. Spiess, Maslennikov). And in 1989 Galina performed the same role in the film version which was directed by A. Zhulavsky, music conducted by M. Rostropovitch. While the singer was forced to live abroad, she made records of the full version of S. Prokofiev’s “War and Peace” opera, five discs of Russian romantic songs by M. Glinka, A. Dargomyzhsky, M. Mussorgsky, A. Borodin and P. Tchaikovsky. Galina Vishnevskaya’s whole life and creative work are aimed at renewing and glorifying Russian opera traditions. After perestroika began, in 1990 Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovitch were granted back the Russian citizenship. At the beginning of 90-s Galina Vishnevskaya returned to Russia, became honorary professor of the Moscow Conservatoire. She described her life in the book “Galina. A Russian story”, the English version of which was published in 1984, with the Russian version following in 1991.

Galina Vishnevskaya is honorary doctor of arts with numerous universities. For many years she has been working with young people of arts, giving master-classes all over the world and heading greatest international competitions as part of the grand jury. Galina Vishnevskaya is the President of the all-Russia Fair of singers in Yekaterinburg. On the 1st of September, 2002 Galina Vishnevskaya Centre for Opera was opened in Moscow what the diva had been anticipating for many years. Here she shares her accumulated experience and unique knowledge with talented young singers so that they could proudly represent the Russian School on the international opera stage. On the repertoire of the Centre for Opera there are chefs-d’oeuvres of the world opera classics, staged by the best Russian and foreign directors and also various concert programmes. During the three years the Centre has existed, the students of the great singer made concert trips to numerous cities and towns in Russia: Nizhniy Novgorod, Kazan, Ulyanovsk, Samara, Saint-Petersburg, Vladivostok and also abroad: Germany, France, Italy. Largest federal and regional mass media, directors of theatres and concert organizations, public opinion in general praise Galina Vishnevskaya’s missionary attitude towards culture. Galina Vishnevskaya is awarded with most prestigious prizes for her priceless contribution to the world music art, among which there is International Giacomo Puccini award, prizes from governments of different countries: Medal for the Defense of Leningrad (1943), Order of Lenin (1971), Diamond Medal of Paris, Order for Services to Motherland of third degree (1996). Galina Vishnevskaya is also Grand Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France 1982), Chevalier of Legion of Honour (France 1983), Honorary Citizen of Kronshtadt (1996). On the 1st of September, 2004 Galina Vishnevskaya’s 60th anniversary of artistic career was celebrated, she was awarded with Saint Princess Olga Order of the Russian Orthodox Church and Peter the Great Order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for her enormous contribution to the Russian culture.

On 11 December 2012, Vishnevskaya died at the age of 86 in Moscow. 





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