Obituary: Contralto Ewa Podleś Dies at 71

By Francisco Salazar

On Jan. 19, 2024, Contralto Ewa Podleś passed away at the age of 71.

Considered one of the great Polish singers of her generation, she had a career that took her to all the great theaters in the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Teatro alla Scala, the Royal Opera House, Teatro Real, and the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Born on April 26, 1952, in Warsaw, Poland, Podleś studied at the Warsaw Academy of Music under Alina Bolechowska and made her stage debut as Rosina in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” in 1975.

In 1984 she made her Metropolitan Opera singing the title role in Händel’s “Rinaldo” but was absent from the company for more than 24 years. She would return to the company in 2008 in a production of “La Gioconda.”

Renowned for her interpretation of Baroque works, Podleś’s repertoire also ranged from Händel to Shostakovich. She was known for her interpretations of such operas as “Rodelinda,” “Italiana in Algeri,” “Cendrillon,” “Elektra,” and “Giulio Cesare.”

In 2017, after a run of “La fille du régiment” at the Liceu, Podleś announced that she was going to interrupt temporarily her stage career due to an orthopaedic operation but continued her activities as a teacher. 

Throughout her career, she made numerous recordings including De Falla’s “El amor brujo,” Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” Offenbach’s “Orphée aux enfers,” Händel’s “Giulio Cesare,” Donizetti’s “La fille du régiment,” Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda,” Rossini’s “Ciro in Babilonia,” Massenet’s “Cendrillon,” and Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades.”