Ghena Dimitrova, born on May 6, 1941, was a powerhouse soprano in every possible way.
Known for a massive instrument, she would go on to sing some of the heaviest repertoire possible throughout her career.
Her massive voice was recognized from her youth when she sang in the school choir in her native Bulgaria. She was offered a spot at the Sofia Conservatory to further her musical talents and studied under Christo Brambarov between 1959-64.
She actually started teaching once she got out of the conservatory but wound up making a major breakthrough in 1967 at the Bulgarian National Opera in Verdi’s “Nabucco” after a few sopranos dropped out of the production.
From there she won a prize that allowed her to study in Milan. She would slowly but surely create an international career that lasted her until she retired in 2001. She died on June 11, 2005.
Dimitrova’s powerhouse voice was undeniably suited to heavier repertoire and she shone in two roles in particular – Abigaile in “Nabucco” and the title role of “Turandot.”
Abigaile was, of course, her breakout role at the Bulgarian National Opera, and her interpretation famously developed over her career, the soprano adding an interpolated high C at the climax of the cabaletta “Salgo già.”
Her work in “Turandot” was renowned for her assuredness of vocal power and it became a vehicle for many high profile debuts at such houses as the Metropolitan Opera, Treviso, and La Scala.
The soprano famously said, “Turandot may not be my favorite part, but it shows off the voice to great advantage. The way the music is written, you need a voice like a trumpet to do it justice.”
Watch and Listen
Get a load of her “Turandot” interpretation here in the opera’s most famous aria “In questa reggia.”
And here is her famous Abigaile under Riccardo Muti from La Scala.