Obituary: ‘Diva’ Soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez Dies at 75

By Francisco Salazar

Soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez has died at the age of 75.

Born in Philadelphia in 1949, Fernandez studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Vocal Arts and later at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.

She went on to make her operatic debut in Porgy and Bess at the Houston Grand Opera and later toured the production in the U.S. and Europe.

She went on to make her Paris debut as Musetta in “La Bohème” alongside Plácido Domingo and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in 1979 and later in 1982 made her New York City Opera in the same role. Her career also took her to Boston, Toulouse, Strasbourg, and Liège

Other roles that became iconic in her career included “Carmen,” “Carmen Jones,” for which she received an Olivier Award, and “Aida.” She also sang Purcell’s Dido, Mozart’s Countess, Donna Anna, Marguerite, and Luisa Miller.

In 1981, she appeared in the film “Diva” in which she sang the aria “Ebben? Neandro lontana.” The film garnered her a nomination for Best Actress at the Image Awards.