Artist Profile: Mezzo-Soprano Teresa Berganza, A Spanish Legend

By David Salazar

Mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza is one of Spain’s great treasures.

Born on March 16, 1935, Berganza studied piano and voice at the Madrid Conservatory. She was awarded the first prize for singing in 1954 and subsequently debuted a year later.

In 1957, Berganza made her opera debut at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in “Così Fan Tutte.” Also in 1957, the mezzo made her first appearance at Teatro alla Scala, followed by debuts in Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House, and the Metropolitan Opera. A Carnegie Hall debut came in 1964.

She opened the Expo ’92 in Seville and appeared at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Berganza would go on to a strong international career that featured a lot of Italian opera, but also a championing of music from her native country. For her contributions, she was awarded the 1991 Prince of Asturias Award. She also won the Grand Prix Rossini, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 International Opera Awards, and the Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts from Spain. In addition to winning the Premio Nacional de Música, Berganza also became the first woman elected into the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. She is also set to be named “Hija Predilecta” of Madrid.

She has also appeared in many film versions of operas.

Signature Roles

She was well-regarded for a number of major roles, especially in the operas of Rossini and Mozart. Almost all of her major debuts came in operas by one of these two composers; at the Met, she only performed operas by Mozart and Rossini.

She was also a well-regarded “Carmen” interpreter with her recording of the opera among the most heralded.

“Carmen is sung by Teresa Berganza, lighter than most (her bel canto training is gloriously evident throughout), wonderfully reserved and proud, and with real teasing allure in the first two acts, a fine dark turn in the third, and a will of iron in the last. Her singing is always handsome and utterly faithful to Bizet’s score,” stated a review of the album.

Read More on Berganza

Operas That She shared with Christa Ludwig

Watch and Listen

Here is an album with over five hours of music featuring the famed mezzo.

Here is an album of 18-th century music.

And here is a look at Spanish music that she was so well-known for.

Finally, here is perhaps her most famous recording in the title role of “Carmen.”


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