Obituary: Russian Mezzo-Soprano Irina Bogacheva Passes Away At 80

By Nicole Kuchta

The Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory has announced that Irina Bogacheva passed away on Sept. 19, 2019 at the age of 80.

Born in Leningrad in 1939, Bogacheva graduated from Leningrad Conservatory, where she later returned as an educator and Chair of the Department of Solo Singing. According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the mezzo was best known for taking on leading roles of Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Mussorgsky operas.

She made her Kirov Theater debut in 1964 as Polina in “The Queen of Spades,” and her La Scala debut just a few years later as Ulrica in Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera.” She went on to perform nearly three dozen roles at the Mariinsky Theater, including the title role of “Carmen,” Amneris in “Aida,” Lyubasha in “The Tsar’s Bride,” Marta in “Khovanshchina,” Azucena in “Il Trovatore,” and Charlotte in “Werther.” Her Countess in “The Queen of Spades” became a model for future generations of singers, according to her bio on the Mariinsky Theater’s website.

Bogacheva was the first to perform Dmitry Shostakovich’s song cycle “Six Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva” in 1973.

Her achievements granted her the honors of becoming a People’s Artist of the USSR (1976), a laureate of the USSR State Prize (1984), Order of Friendship, and Order for Merit to the Fatherland (III & IV), and an Honorary Citizen of Saint Petersburg. In 2017 she was awarded the Golden Mask for her contributions to the arts.

Here she is performing the Habanera from “Carmen.”