Soprano Angela Gheorghiu possesses a warm, plush timbre that is distinctively unique ― one note and it’s apparent it’s Gheorghiu. Also possessing dramatic abilities that rival Hollywood’s most respected actresses and the Romanian soprano has secured a place as one of the most established singers in history.
Born on Sept. 7, 1965, Gheorghiu is perhaps most celebrated for her interpretations in the Italian repertoire, particularly those of Puccini. To commemorate her 52nd birthday, here is a look at Angela Gheorghiu’s five best renditions of Puccini roles.
Mimì ― La bohème
Gheorghiu made her professional debut in this role at the Romanian National Opera in 1990 and it quickly became one of her signature roles. She’s performed it at virtually every major opera house around the world, including The Met, Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Tosca ― Tosca
Using “Vissi D’arte” to her advantage, Gheorghiu has enhanced the latter-half of her career with the opera’s most famous aria. Most notably, she sang the aria during the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors program, which honored another diva — American soprano Grace Bumbry. Gheorghiu has performed “Tosca” at the Met and Vienna State Opera (where she notoriously, yet comically, missed her Act III entrance alongside Jonas Kaufmann in April 2016), and will reprise the role in 2018 in London, Vienna, and Hamburg.
Liù ― Turandot
Though her interpretation of the sympathetic Liù may not be as lauded as her Mimì or Tosca, her rendition of “Tu che di gel sei cinta” is both absolutely stunning and heartbreaking. She sang Liú at the Met 10 times within her career, and also in London.
Magda ― La Rondine
Puccini’s seldom-performed La Rondine has at last emerged from obscurity within the last decade, mostly in part to the Metropolitan Opera’s new production, starring Gheorghiu as Magda. The Met hadn’t staged this gem in about 70 years before it’s 2008 staging, and audiences swooned over her romantic take of the French courtesan.
Cio-Cio San ― Madama Butterfly
Though Gheorghiu never tackled the unrelenting Cio-Cio San on stage, she won the Gramophone Award in 2009 for her recording alongside (once again) tenor Jonas Kaufmann. Though audiences never got to hear her Butterfly live, the recording lives on as the definitive moment of her career.