Elena Obraztsova (Director)|
Elena Vasiliyevna Obraztsova was born in Leningrad, Russia, on July 7, 1939. As a small girl, she lived through Leningrad‘s blockade by the Germans. At a very young age, she saw several dead people at the door steps of the building she lived in who had died of hunger and cold. Near the end of the blockade, she was evacuated from the city across the frozen Lake Ladoga. Two trucks with other children in front of the truck Elena was in went under ice. Elena herself lost her grandmother, who was travelling with her and died from hunger on the road.
After the war, Elena began showing an interest in music and dreamed of becoming an opera star. Her father, an engineer who played several musical instruments, found her voice displeasing and attempted to enroll Elena in the Radio Technical Institute in Taganrog (where he worked at the time) to study electronics. She was not accepted, so she enrolled in the Musical School in Rostov and then the Leningrad Conservatory.
She began stenuous study with Antonina Grigorieva and began entering competitions as a mezzo-soprano. She got the Gold Medal at the Eighth World Youth and Students Festival in Helsinki in 1962, much to the surprise of her teacher. The following year she earned another first prize in the Glinka All-Union Competition in Moscow. Shortly after, she was invited to join the Bolshoi Opera Company in Moscow and she accepted.
In the 1964-65 season, Elena Obraztsova made her operatic debut at the Bolshoi as Marina in the Rimsky-Korsakov version of Mussorgsky‘s Boris Godunov. Soon after, she travelled with the Bolshoi to Milan, and made her debut at La Scala on October 28, 1964, as the Governess in Pique Dame. The following month she portrayed Maria in War and Peace at La Scala before leaving with the Bolshoi to Montreal‘s Expo 67.
During the Bolshoi‘s June-July 1975 United States tour, she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera as Marina in Boris Godunov, stopping the show to take five curtain calls at the end of her love duet with Grigori, sung by Vladimir Atlantov. During the remainder of the tour, she also appeared as the Old Countess in Pique Dame, Elene Bezukhova in War and Peace, and Zhenka Komelkova in Molchanov‘s The Dawns Are Quiet Here, which she had appeared in at the opera‘s world premiere a few months earlier in Moscow.
In 1975, Elena was invited to open the San Francisco Opera‘s season as Azucena in Verdi‘s Il Trovatore with Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland. She appeared in Werther at La Scala in 1976 before returning to San Francisco to launch the 1977 season as the Princesse de Bouillon in Cilea‘s Adriana Lecouvreur with Renata Scotto. Meanwhile, on October 12, 1976, she caused a sensation when she made her official debut as a regular member of the Metropolitan Opera as Amneris in Verdi‘s Aïda (a performance that was called "one of the great Met débuts in recent history"). That year, she also sang at Carnegie Hall for the Richard Tucker Memorial Gala.
In 1977, she scored a major triumph as Dalila in Saint-Saëns‘ Samson et Dalila at the Met. Of her performance, Thor Eckert Jr. wrote, "It is doubtful that there has been another Dalila in recent years for whom, vocally, the highs and lows - some two and a half octaves - held not the slightest terror. Nor does the voice reveal the slightest seam."
In 1978, she added the roles of Charlotte (in Werther) and Carmen to her Met repertoire, as well as making her Covent Garden debut as Azucena in Il Trovatore. She also returned to La Scala for performances of Un Ballo in Maschera and Don Carlos and, the following year, added Adalgisa in Bellini‘s Norma to her repertoire.
During her career, Elena Obraztsova has mastered more than twenty operatic roles. Her thrilling voice made her a favorite at the Met and at La Scala, mostly due to her theatrical flair and vocal intensity. She has also ventured into producing operas, making her debut as a producer in the Bolshoi‘s production of Werther during the 1986-87 season. She has received numerous awards and was named People‘s Artist of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in 1973, as well as being awarded the Lenin Prize in 1976.
Elena Obraztsova coached other members of the Bolshoi. She continued to appear in opera performances around the world and recently established the Elena Obraztsova Competition for young singers.
1963 Marina ( Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov)
1964 Princess Maria (Prokofiev , War and Peace)
1964 The Governess, Paulina/Milovzor
( Tchaikovsky, The Queen of Spades)
1965 Amneris (Verdi Aida)
1965 The Countess (Tchaikovsky, The Queen of Spades)
1965 Oberon (Britten A Midsummer Night‘s Dream)
1967 Lubasha (Rimsky-Korsakov, The Tsar‘s Bride)
1968 Konchakovna (Borodin Prince Igor)
1968 Marfa (Mussorgsky Khovanshchina).
1970 Frosia (Prokofiev Semyon Kotko)
1971 Countess Helene Bezuchova (Prokofiev , War and Peace)
1972 Carmen (Bizet, Carmen)
1972 Azucena (Verdi, Il Trovatore)
1973 Eboli (Verdi, Don Carlo)
1974 Charlotte (Massenet ,Werther)
1974 Dalila (Saint-Saëns Samson et Dalila)
1975 Zhènia Komelkòva (Molchanov ,
The Dawns Here Are Quiet)
1977 Santuzza (Mascagni,Cavalleria rusticana)
1977 Ulrica (Verdi Un Ballo in maschera)
1977 La Principessa di Bouillon (Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur)
1978 Judith (Bartok ,Bluebeard‘s Castle)
1979 Lubava (Rimsky-Korsakov, Sadko)
1979 Adalgisa (Bellini, Norma)
1980 Jocaste (Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex)
1982 Giovanna Seymour (Donizetti, Anna Bolena)
1984 Orfeo (Gluck, Orfeo ed Euridice)
1989 Néris (Cherubini, Medea)
1990 Hérodiade (Massenet ,Herodiade)
1990 Eudosya (Respighi ,La fiamma)
1992 Leonora (Donizetti ,La Favorita)
1992 La zia Principessa (Puccini ,Suor Angelica)
1996 Babulen’ka (Prokofiev, The Gambler)
2000 Madame Akhrosimova (Prokofiev, War and Peace)
2003 Prince Orlovsky (J. Strauss Die Fledermaus )
2006 La Marquise de Berkenfeld (G.Donizetti , Fille Du Regiment)
Obraztsova died on 12 January 2015 in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany, while undergoing medical treatment. She was 75 years old.