Sunday, October 18, 2009

Virginia Zeani--First posted Mar. 16, 2009*

So today I give you Virginia Zeani:

I'm sorry this one isn't actually a video, but rather a pastiche of images and text, but please do listen and read the narrative. This is an amazing recording!

For video, I'm afraid the only thing on YouTube is the following, in which Signora Zeani is singing Aida against with Elena Cernei as Amneris.

[Edit: Spoke too soon. Out of sync but still great!]

[Further edit: More videos have appeared on YouTube since I first posted this.]

Virginia Zeani (born October 21, 1925) is a Romanian soprano, particularly associated with the Italian repertory, especially the role of Violetta in La traviata.
Zeani was born Virginia Zahan, in Solovăstru, Transylvania, Romania. She studied first in Bucarest, with famed coloratura soprano Lydia Lipkovskaia, and in Milan, with the great tenor Aureliano Pertile. She made her professional debut in Bologna, as Violetta in La traviata, a role she would sing an estimated 648 times around the world during her career.

Her career was first primarily focused in Italy, where she sang at most opera houses, but soon her reputation led to invitations at major opera houses of Europe as well. Violetta was her debut role in London, Vienna, and Paris. She made her debut at La Scala in Milan in 1956, as Cleopatra in Handel 's Giulio Cesare, opposite Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, whom she married shorthly after.

Zeani also appeared in Leningrad, Moscow, Philadelphia, and the New York's Metropolitan Opera, as Violetta, in 1966. She won considerable success in bel canto roles, such as Lucia di Lammermoor, Gilda in Rigoletto, Elvira in I Puritani, Linda di Chamounix, before turning to more dramatic roles, such as Manon Lescaut, Tosca, Fedora, Adriana Lecouvreur. She also tackled a few Verdi and Wagner roles, such as Lina in Stiffelio, Elsa in Lohengrin. She created the role of Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites in 1957, at La Scala.

She sang with tenors such as Beniamino Gigli, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Carlo Bergonzi, Alfredo Kraus, Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, etc. A warm-voiced singer with an affecting stage presence, she made few commercial recordings, but a number of her live performances exist as bootleg recordings.

Following her retirement from the opera stage in 1983, Zeani remained active as a voice instructor at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where she and her husband, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, were both distinguished teachers. Zeani has since retired from Indiana University after her husband's death in 1991, and currently resides in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she continues to teach.

Above bio from Wikipedia. On a personal note, your intrepid reporter auditioned for Miss Zeani's studio when he was a student at Indiana University, and was invited to study with her, but foolishly listened to someone who advised him to study with a famous tenor also teaching there. Said tenor turned out to be a dolt.


CharlotteinWeimar said...

Glorious Virginia Zeani will celebrate her 85th Birthday in October. She is still teaching and as keen and alert to all the new singers as ever. With the YouTube postings, frequent admiring comments from Angela Gheorghiu for whom she is an idol and role model, and excellent channels like yours, she is re-establishing her rightful position as one of the very greatest sopranos.

Taminophile said...

A pleasure to hear from you, Charlotte! We've corresponded on YouTube, if you recall. (I have another name there.) Please give dear Ms. Zeani my best!