Edita Gruberová

Edita Gruberová

Edita Gruberová is one of the singers I wish I had discovered earlier in my life; every time I hear her, I’m amazed by her intonation, ornamentation, and clarity in both tone and diction. Born in 1946, the Slovak soprano studied music at the Bratislava Conservatory and the Academy of Read more…

Ferruccio Furlanetto

Ferruccio Furlanetto

Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto has a powerful, unforgettable sound. I know him primarily through Mozart – as Figaro in a famous Met recording of Le Nozze di Figaro and as Don Alfonso in another James Levine led production of Così fan tutte (this one was with the Vienna Philharmonic). Although Read more…

Dawn Upshaw

Diva of the Day: Dawn Upshaw

Diva Dawn Upshaw has a light and sparkly soprano sound, ideally suited to soubrette roles. It was in just such a role that I first heard her – as Susanna in a Metropolitan Opera recording of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.
Diva Dawn Upshaw

Diva Dawn Upshaw – Biography

Upshaw was born in 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee. She studied at the Manhattan School of Music, after which she won numerous awards, including the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1984 and the Walter M. Naumburg Competition in 1985. She made her Met debut in 1984. Upshaw was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer in 2006, for which she received treatment.

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Sherrill Milnes

Sherrill Milnes

Sherrill Milnes
Sherrill Milnes was another name that kept popping up on the CD box sets I was buying. I first heard Milnes on the famous 1971 recording of Verdi’s Rigoletto with Sutherland and Pavarotti. Like so many great singers, he has an unforgettable and unmistakable sound. The first word that comes to mind when I think of Milnes is power. He also has a wonderful ability to convey emotion in his tone and bring out different colors of his instrument. Listen below to see what I mean. I wouldn’t say his voice is beautiful in the way, say, Gerald Finley’s is, but he certainly has his place secured in the list of great divi.

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Kathleen Battle

Kathleen Battle

The opera world loves a good controversy, and Kathleen Battle certainly provided one! Born in 1948, Battle first appeared on the operatic stage as Rosina in Michigan Opera Theater’s 1975 production of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. Two years later she made her Met debut, playing the Shepherd in Wagner’s Tannhäuser. During the 1980s, Battle became a renowned interpreter of lyric and coloratura soprano roles.

Kathleen Battle

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Kiri Te Kanawa

Kiri Te Kanawa

I first noticed Kiri Te Kanawa because she kept appearing on opera CD box sets I bought – Le Nozze di Figaro, Rigoletto, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, etc. She had a gorgeous, warm, unmistakable lyric soprano voice that seemed especially suited to Mozart. She has gone on to become one of my favorite divas.

Kiri Te Kanawa

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Joan Sutherland

Joan Sutherland

Joan Sutherland was the first operatic soprano I ever knew. My passion for opera began with a 1971 Decca recording of Verdi’s Rigoletto in which Joan played Gilda opposite Pavarotti’s Duke of Mantua. Although never a master of diction, Sutherland had an unforgettable voice with a natural flair for coloratura passages.

Joan Sutherland

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Tito Gobbi

Tito Gobbi

Italian baritone Tito Gobbi was a prolific and versatile performer and stage director from his debut in 1935 to his retirement in 1979. He appeared in over 25 film versions of operas and played Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca almost 1,000 times. In fact, he played Scarpia opposite Maria Callas‘ Tosca Read more…

Maria Callas

Maria Callas

The quintessential diva, Maria Callas was renowned not just for her beautiful singing, but also for her superb acting. The short-lived Greek-American star was born in New York City in 1923. She studied music in Greece and first emerged on the operatic stage in Italy. Callas is widely regarded as one of the great interpreters of the 19th-century bel canto technique, singing virtually all the major Donizetti, Bellini, and Rossini soprano roles. A recording of her singing the title role of Puccini’s Tosca in 1952 is still considered the gold standard. In fact, the recording itself has a Wikipedia page.

“Nearly thirty years after her death, she’s still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music’s best-selling vocalists.” -Opera News, 2006

Maria Callas is “the Bible of opera.” -Leonard Bernstein

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