galina vishnevskaya

The death a few days ago of the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya at the age of 86 seems all the more poignant in this particular year of 2012.

It was for Vishnevskaya that Benjamin Britten wrote the soprano part in his ‘War Requiem,’ which celebrated its 50th birthday in May.

But because the Soviet authorities intervened, she wasn’t allowed to sing the role in the first performance in Coventry Cathedral in 1962.

However, persistence did pay off, and she took her rightful place when the work was recorded by Decca the following year.

It’s a thrilling performance, which nearly didn’t happen, according to Michael Foster’s excellent book about the work ‘The Idea Was Good’ (Coventry Cathedral Books).

Following various miscommunications and misunderstandings, largely brought about because she didn’t speak or understand English, Vishnevskaya had what’s known in artistic circles as a full-blown hissy fit.

At the climax of which, she lay on the floor, shrieking at the top of her voice, and refused to perform.

Remarkably, she reappeared at the studio the next morning and proceeded to sing superbly, as if nothing at all had happened.

The results are there for all to hear and enjoy on the classic Decca recording.

Britten – War Requiem – Libera Me

Galina Vishnevskaya – The Guardian obituary

If you still haven’t sorted a Christmas present for the classical music lover in your life, then look no further than the Blu-ray/dvd of the 50th anniversary performance of ‘War Requiem.’

War Requiem dvd – blogpost – 20th October 2012


One Response to “galina vishnevskaya”

  1. It’s a brilliantly produced dvd – and the first Blu-ray that I have owned. I must say I am well impressed!
    Also, I hadn’t heard that Vishnevskaya had passed away – your blog is informative!

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