Monday, June 5

Mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza dies

Theresa Berganza. / EFE

He received the Prince of Asturias Award in 1991 and was a member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

The Madrid mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza has died in San Lorenzo del Escorial at the age of 87. She was an opera singer, frequently associated with characters in operas by Rossini, Mozart and Bizet, admired for her technique, musicality and stage presence.

Teresa Berganza (Madrid, 1933) studied music at the Madrid Conservatory with teachers such as Gerardo Gombau or Jesús Guridi, and studied singing with Lola Rodríquez Aragón. In 1957 he offered his first recital at the Ateneo de Madrid, he sang ‘Don Quijote’ by Massenet in Milan together with the great Bulgarian bass Boris Christoff, and he performed ‘L’Italiana in Algeri’ in a version filmed for RAI before his international consecration at the Aix-en-Provence Festival as Dorabella in ‘Cosi fan tutte’. The following year she appeared at Glyndebourne with ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ (The Marriage of Figaro) and she was Neris in ‘Medea’ at the Dallas Opera, alongside the mythical Maria Callas.

A specialist in Mozart and a pioneer in the recovery of Rossini, her interpretations of Cherubino in ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’, Dorabella in ‘Cosi fan tutte’ and Sesto in ‘La Clemenza di Tito’ have established a chair, and her Isabella in ‘L’ Italiana in Algeri’, Angelina in ‘La Cenerentola’ and Rosina in ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’ (The Barber of Seville) returned their authentic vocality to these roles. In 1977, her assumption in Edinburgh with Claudio Abbado of a Carmen far removed from the topic and absolutely faithful to the score marked a milestone in the history of operatic interpretation.

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He performed in the most prestigious theaters and concert halls (Vienna, La Scala, the Met, San Francisco, the Paris Opera, the Salzburg Festival), with masters such as Abbado, Ansermet, Barenboim, Giulini, Karajan, Kondrashin, Kubelik, Leppard, Maazel, Markevitch, Munch, Muti, Plasson, Rudel, Solti, Von Dohnányi and the Spaniards Argenta, Colomer, García Asensio, García Navarro, López Cobos and Ros Marbá, among many others, and with stage directors such as Ebert, Faggioni , De Filipp, Lavelli, Mansouri, Pizzi, Ponnelle, Rennert, Schenk, Strehier, Wallmann or Zeffirelli. His recitals constituted authentic theatrical spectacles in which music, words and gesture formed a unit.

His vast repertoire ranged from the masters of the Italian Baroque (Monteverdi, Cavalli) to the composers of the 20th century, with special attention to Spanish music of all times. Likewise, she performed songs by Latin American authors, German lieder and was a teacher of the French mélodie, from Berlioz and Fauré to Hahn and Ravel, and contributed decisively to the revaluation of the zarzuela. Her extensive discography includes such notable recordings as Handel’s ‘Alcina’; ‘La Clemenza di Tito’, ‘Cosi fan tutte’ and ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ by Mozart, ‘La Vida Breve’ and ‘El Amor Brujo’ by Falla; Offenbach’s ‘La Perichole’; Massenet’s ‘Don Quixote’; Rossini’s ‘Il Barbiere di Siviqlia’, ‘L’Italiana in Algeri’, and ‘La Cenerentola’; Bizet’s ‘Carmen’; Stravinsky’s ‘Pulcinella’; Ravel’s ‘Shéherazade’; the ‘Stabat Mater’ by Pergolesi, or the ‘Gloria’ by Vivaldi.

Awarded for her performances and recordings on many occasions -among which we must highlight the Grand Prize of the Disc, awarded on six occasions-, Teresa Berganza received the Prince of Asturias Award in 1991 and in 1992 King Juan Carlos presented the Medal Gold Award for Merit in Fine Arts. In 1995 she was unanimously named academic number of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid, being the first woman and the first singer to enter the prestigious institution.

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He was also a member of the Institute of Spain and Commander of Arts and Letters of France. In 2005 he celebrated his fifty years in the profession with the release of the album Brava Berganza!.

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