Today's Classical Music Video

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Russian mezzo Elena Obraztsova Sings "Acerba volutta" from Adriana Lecouvreur


On Thursday July 7 the great Russian mezzo Elena Obraztsova turns 72. She was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1939, and studied at the Rostov music school and later at the Leningrad Conservatory. She  won several important singing competitions and was invited to join the Bolshoi Opera, where she made her operatic debut as Marina in Boris Godunov in 1964. In addition to Marina, she was a noted Carmen, Dalila, Santuzza, Eboli, and Amneris, to name a few of her two dozen operatic roles.  She made a huge splash at the Metropolitan Opera in the mid 1970's. Obraztsova continued to sing into the 1990's, gradually migrating to character roles like the Countess in Pique Dame.  Today, she teaches at the Bolshoi and is a sought after teacher for masterclasses and as an adjudicator in vocal competitions. In its prime, the Obraztsova mezzo was huge, used impressively if not very subtly and has a very distinctive sound once heard never forgotten. Her vocal production was rather veiled and her vowels idiosyncratic, and she has an immense chest register that opera fans either loved or hated.   But there is no denying that she was a great singer.  Here is an example of Obraztsova at her verismo best, in Principessa di Bouillon's aria from Adriana Lecouvreur. This performance took place in Tokyo in 1980. Her out-sized personality was perfect for this role.  Happy Birthday Elena Obraztsova!    

- Joseph K. So

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