Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu has cemented her legacy as one of the finest divas of the late 20th and early 21st century.
Born on Sept. 7, 1965, she was an opera star very early on. She made her international debut in 1990 as Mimì in “La Bohème” at the Cluj-Napoca Romanian National Opera. Two years later she made her international debut at the Royal Opera House in London as Zerlina in “Don Giovanni” and she followed that up with debuts at the Met Opera and Vienna State Opera. It wasn’t long before she was singing around the world, growing her repertoire slowly and deliberately. She has sung everywhere, including the Verbier Festival, Salzburg Festival, the Vienna Opera Ball, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Arts Centre Melbourne, the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the Bolshoi Theatre, and the Teatro Malibran, among others.
She has performed for Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Sofia of Spain, Queen Beatrix, and was invited to honor Grace Bumbry at the 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors.
Her career has been a massive success from many angles. She has developed a solid recorded legacy with EMI and Warner Classics, which includes over 50 recordings across both CD and DVD (enough for its own Wikipedia page).
Beyond that, she has won five Gramophone Awards, an Echo Klassik Award, Diapason d’or Awards, US Critics’ Awards, Female Artist of the Year at the Classic Brit Awards, and was appointed as an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, among many other accolades. She was also included in the Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2014.
Gheorghiu is one of those artists that doesn’t sing all that many roles in the larger scope, but she is one of the best at what she does. Case in point: “La Traviata.” She is undeniably one of the iconic Violetta interpreters of the 1990s and early 2000s, singing the role virtually everywhere she went. It was her work in this role that launched her career at the Royal Opera House.
She has also sung the roles of “Tosca” and Mimì in “La Bohème” to great acclaim, the former a major part of her later career. “The famous ‘Vissi d’arte’ was easily the most poignant moment of the night from every angle…At the climax of the aria, her voice soared through the theater in painful anguish and her final notes were held out with seemingly endless breath,” said a review from Latin Post of her performance of “Tosca” at the Met.
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Watch and Listen
Here is a concert recital from 2018 in Vienna.
And here is her famed “Traviata” interpretation.