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Subject: Re: Vishnevskaya
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Mon, 9 Jul 2018 16:36:22 -0400

text/plain (86 lines)

To state Netrebko’s fame is greater than Vishnevskaya’s sounds  . . . just 
odd to me.  Netrebko, who declared women who are sexually 
abused “allowed it” to happen, simply can't compare to to the former great 
soprano as renowned for her tireless charitable efforts as she was her 
musical career and whose obituary began:

“Galina Vishnevskaya, an electrifying soprano who endured repression and 
exile as one of the postwar Soviet Union’s most prominent political 
dissidents, died on Tuesday in Moscow. She was 86 . . .  wife of the 
celebrated cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, was renowned both 
as an emotional singer with a polished technique and as a charismatic 
actress. . . . At the Bolshoi she breathed new life into stodgy Soviet-era 
productions with dynamic interpretations … from 1952 through 1974, she 
performed more than 30 roles . . . rarely allowed to sing in the West at the 
height of her powers in the 1960s and ’70s, she drew rave reviews when 
she did. “Galina Vishnevskaya’s appearances at the Metropolitan Opera are 
like a comet’s, sudden, infrequent, capable of lighting up the sky,” 
Raymond Ericson wrote in The New York Times, reviewing her performance 
in the title role of Puccini’s “Tosca” in 1975.”

“She reigned as prima donna assoluta at the Bolshoi Theater for two 
decades. She also enjoyed unusual international prestige as a concert 
singer, and both Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten composed 
major works for her.”

Wherever she appeared, there was a clamor, her recitals sold out and she 
was admired not merely by adoring fans but by other serious artists, 
composers and writers.  She was always glamorous, regal and classy.  That 
she achieved all of this during the Soviet era where the greatest artists 
could often be treated no better than buskers, is significant by its own merits.

Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich were like royalty during their decades in 
Washington, they lived like the King and Queen of DC in their luxury 
apartments.  Whenever people spoke of her appearances they never failed 
to include her tailor-made gowns and the stunning jewelry of emeralds and 
diamonds she frequently always described as having cost “a king’s 

Vishnevskaya’s first film, Michael Shapiro’s take on 
Shostakovich’s “Katerina Ismailova” garnered her raves for her singing and 
acting, selected for viewing at the world’s most famous film festival – the 
1967 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for the Festival’s highest award, 
the Palme d'Or.  

Four decades later, Alexander Sokurov, one of the greatest Russian 
directors of our time, wrote and directed perhaps his most moving, well-
received films – an unusual anti-war film, for the 82 year old soprano that 
landed it and her on every major critic’s “Top Ten” lists.  In only the second 
film of her her career, Madame Vishnevskaya found herself once again, the 
lead in a film nominted for the Palme d’Or.  

Galya and Slava appeared on television and, held a news conference when 
they were stripped of their Soviet Citizenship, declared “Enemies of the 
People” for their friendship and support (including sheltering) Aleksandr 

She created the Vishnevskaya Opera Center - which was no mere vanity 
project or flash-in-the-pan festival, but where she spent the last 20 years 
of her life teaching, training, encouraging and directing young singers for 
careers in opera.  The Center, now run by she and Slava's daughter, Olga, 
has established itself as one of the most vital parts of the Moscow cultural 
scene, hosting not just productions from the Center's student programs, 
but theatre, and performances by great artists of every medium.  

There is a difference between artistic achievement and  pop culture-
type “fame.”  One can be bought with publicity machines, and hype, 
ultimately meaning very little in the grand scheme of things.  The other, 
yields a fame that lands in history books – and lasts forever.  


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