Teresa Berganza, acclaimed Spanish operative Soprano, dies at 89

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Teresa Berganza, a Spanish mezzo-soprano who was admired for her brilliant, meticulously crafted performances in the operas of Mozart and Rossini, died at her home in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on 13 May, now part of Greater Madrid. He was 89 years old.

The Spanish Ministry of Culture announced the death but did not provide details. Her daughter Cecilia Lavila Berganza, a soprano, wrote in a Facebook post that her mother had asked her to fight as little as possible. “I came to earth and found no one,” he said, quoting his mother, “so when I leave I want the same.”

Miss. Burgenza was best known in the United States for his many recordings, including more than 20 solo albums and a dozen complete operas. She starred in a number of films, the most famous of which was the adaptation of director Joseph Lucy’s Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”, a smash hit at the box-office in 1979, where she played the role of Geralina.

His personal presence in America was minimal, starting with the Dallas Opera in 1958, continuing in Chicago, San Francisco, and finally a single season at the Metropolitan Opera in 1967-1968.

No one has ever explained the shortness of Mrs. Bergenzar’s career. But his voice was never loud and it is possible that the 3,700-seat house was too big for him. He was already very busy in Britain, where he was respected and throughout Europe. Then whenever he came back to the United States, he was almost always a reciter – and he was a very good one.

About a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1982, Donal Henahan, then chief music critic of the New York Times, wrote that “it was by no means a mere recitation of notes and words, but a recitation in the sense of the best music.”

Henahan continued, “It was impossible to separate the singer’s voice from the feeling of the text at any time, even if it was desirable.” “Now and then, listeners became faintly aware of accents, accents, stresses, or shades of color, but these subtleties were so inextricably linked to words that such differences could not be felt.”

Mrs. Barganza was always an individualist and spoke her mind. He refuses to sing any operas in translation (“This sounds like a complete betrayal of the composer,” he told Chicago radio host Bruce Duffy in 1984), and he built the reputation for canceling last-minute performances.

“I will never allow myself to sing in bad situations when my voice is not ready to sing,” Duffy said in an interview, adding that he is proud to be part of a “trio” that includes conductor Carlos Claiber and pianist Arturo Benedetti. Michelangelo – two of whom were accused of the same thing.

“We all cancel when we feel we are not ready to give our best, 100 percent,” said Mrs. Burgenza. “I don’t really cancel very often, but when I do, that’s why. I must always have respect for myself and my people who are coming to hear Teresa Berganza, not to hear what I have to say. This is my life. “

Teresa Berganza was born on March 16, 1933 in Madrid. Her father, an accountant who played the piano and trumpet, arranged for her initial music lessons. She dreamed of becoming a nun as a child and entered the Madrid Conservatory with the goal of learning piano and organ for her religious profession.

Her ambition has changed thanks to a teacher who was amazed at her singing talent, which won her first place in a competition sponsored by the Conservatory. She also married Felix Lavila, a piano student who became her partner.

He made his operatic debut as Dorabella in 1957 at the Cixì Fan Tutte festival in Aix-en-Provence, France. Soon he was singing at La Scala in Milan and the Vienna State Opera. As Cherubino in the 1958 performance of “Le Nozze di Figaro” at the Glindbourne Opera House, he achieved a huge success in England which made him famous and started his recording career.

His concert repertoire was extensive, including Catalan folk tunes as well as Schubert, Schumann, Musargsky and Mahler’s choir. He said he skipped most of the operative performances because the preparation time was almost inadequate.

“I often worked at all the opera houses, with conductors like Herbert von Karazan, Carl Boehm and Carlo Maria Giulini, all of whom insisted on at least a month of rehearsals,” he told the Australian newspaper The Edge in 1994. In those days, conductor opera was the main force. Nowadays, with few exceptions, the conductor is the one who comes and shakes the stick. There is no responsibility, no decision. ”

After his retirement he was active as a teacher in Spain and presented master classes around the world.

Lavila had three children, whom she divorced after playing the proto-feminist Carmen at the Edinburgh Festival in 1977 and released in Paris. In 1986, she married Jose Rifa, a priest she reported to about her divorce. He left the church to marry Mrs. Berganza, but they later divorced. In addition to Lavila Barganza, survivors include her two other children, Teresa and Xavier.

In his vast collection, he said, Mozart and Rossini meant the most to him.

“With Rossini, I discovered strategy and perfection with Mozart, purity and spirit,” he told French publication L’Express in 2005. From “The Barber of Seville” to Figaro, the day will come when you will have nothing to fear. ‘ “

“Imagine walking on the edge of a slope – it’s like singing to a barber pair,” he added. “It makes you dizzy. The notes move fast and then suddenly stop. The vocal line is beautiful for a moment, dancing to the next point. Mobility changes from Fort to Pianisimo in seconds, phrases from Legato to Stakato. Still, to control my breathing and muscles.” , I sing Rossini every day. “

“For Mozart,” he continued, “his music requires purity and absolute self-control. Mozart’s recitations and arias contain as much emotion as Rossini does, but it is an emotion that is more ethereal, elusive – and yes, pure.”

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