Teresa Berganza, goodbye to a myth of opera

The mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza, one of the greatest interpreters in the history of the genre and of great international relevance, has died this Friday at the age of 89.

Teresa Berganza, goodbye to a myth of opera

The mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza, one of the greatest interpreters in the history of the genre and of great international relevance, has died this Friday at the age of 89. Details of her death are unknown at the moment, beyond the fact that she has died in San Lorenzo del Dump.

With her goes a myth of opera, which is part of the parnassus of voices that Spain has given to the world, a woman of character as well as very funny, who had no qualms about standing up to a Karajan master when she didn't His tempos that he used in Le nozze di Figaro seemed appropriate.

The artistic director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu remembered him when the news of the singer's death found him presenting 'Wozzeck'. “Berganza played the role of Cherubino and left the rehearsal and did not appear in the performance. They did not reconcile until years later when Karajan claimed her. And so a myth was born and also the signature of a category in Cherubino”.

Many other roles followed, and that Carmen anti-Carmen that gave rise to her special liaison with Claudio Abbado: Carmen, Cenerentola, L'italiana in Algeri. “With it, a new category of making Rossini was born, as well as so many other works that he signed. We owe her for having reopened a path for her with her sympathy and her grace, and that character for which she was able to cancel concerts from one day to the next, for which she received the nickname of Madame annulation” .

Berganza walked his voice through the Scala in Milan, the Vienna Opera, the Covent Garden in London or the Metropolitan in New York. Before choosing to sing, he studied piano, harmony, chamber music, composition, organ and cello.

She is frequently associated with characters from operas by Rossini, Mozart and Bizet, admired for her technique, musicality and stage presence. In fact, Cenerentola and Carmen are two of her greatest hits. She only wanted to sing Tosca, by Puccini, and La traviata, by Verdi, in addition to going on stage with Maria Callas in Norma. "It was very difficult to have to tell her, but then my voice wasn't ready. When I was ready," she explained, "I told Maria, but then she couldn't, it was too late."

But his encounter with Callas on stage had indeed taken place. It took place in Cherubini's Medea, at the State Fair Music Hall in Dallas. The Italian diva sang the title role and Berganza played Neris. He ran the year 1958 and there is a live recording that testifies.

In 1991 he won the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts. Four years later she was named Academic of Number of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. She was the first woman to obtain the distinction, coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the institution.

In 1995 he celebrated his 70th birthday -although it later became known that he had been born in 1933 and not 35- and his half-century of career recording four albums with Deutsche Grammpohon. The Teatro de la Zarzuela put his name on a box in recognition of the contribution he made to the operatic genre.

In 2008 he retired from the stage, his trail has been present every subsequent year. In fact, ten years later, she collected the International Opera Award for her lifetime achievement in London. "I am very grateful for the awards because it is a recognition of a lifetime of singing," he said then, although he clarified that what was really gratifying for him was having been able to dedicate his own life to music.

Beyond the operatic field, in other fields, such as politics, he claimed to feel "indifferent" although he admitted that in times past he had had his ideals "and I have defended them, above all, because of my father, who was a man of the left and at that I adored" and who gave him a happy childhood in the Madrid of the war. However, he believed that "all candidates for elections should pass a music exam" and defended that any child from the age of 5 should learn to play an instrument or sing.

The artistic director of the Teatro Real, Joan Matabosch, has assured La Vanguardia that "Teresa Berganza has been one of the greatest singers in the history of music. Because of the wonder of her voice and her technique, but above all because of that singing with a disarming naturalness, everything sounded natural, simple, expressive, even when it came to the pyrotechnic vocalizations of a Rossini score.

"He achieved that in his singing there was not the slightest desire for gratuitous artifice. Virtuosity was never the objective, but the means to increase expressiveness. Mozart has sung like no one else, he has been crucial in vindicating the forgotten Rossinian repertoire for decades, and her interpretation of Carmen was also essential".

The Madrid theater had invited her to the presentation of the recent Cenerentola, but the mezzo had to decline at the last minute and did not appear in what would probably have been her last meeting with the press.

"In addition to being a colossal artist, Teresa Berganza was the most intelligent, fun and unapologetic person to share dinner with. Also as a human being, she was someone unique," concludes Matabosch.