Russian opera legend Galina Vishnevskaya dies at age 86

By Daniel S Levine,

Galina Vishnevskaya, an opera legend from Russia, has died at age 86.

She was a popular soprano in the postwar Soviet Union, but later became known as a political dissident. She died on Monday in Moscow, the Vishnevskaya Opera Center confirmed, reports The New York Times.

According to Reuters, she became well known in the years after World War II. By the 1960s, she was an international star, performing around the world. She and her husband, famed cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, were criticized by the government for their views and stripped of Russian citizenship in 1978. They did not get their citizenship back until 1990, as the Soviet Union was crumbling.

During the 1980s, she divided her time between the US and France and penned an autobiography titled Galina in 1984.

Her best known roles came in Aida, Eugene Onegin, Tosca and Madame Butterfly.

The Bolshoi theater, where she first impressed audiences, held a moment of silence before its performance Tuesday in Vishnevskaya’s honor.

She is survived by her daughters and six grandchildren. Rostropovich died in 2007.

“Vishnevskaya was a flag-bearer of Russian culture, a singer of the highest rank,” tenor Zurab Sotkilava told the newspaper Kommersant, reports Reuters.



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