(Born July 7, 1939- January 12th 2015)
Elena Obraztsova was a Russian mezzo-soprano, widely recognised as one of the greatest opera singers of all time, thanks to a commanding stage presence and wonderful vocal abilities with a rich large warm tone and sound.
She played many roles throughout her career, many of them under the batons of such leading conductors as Claudio Abbado and Herbert von Karajan.
In December 1977 she opened the 200th opera season in La Scala singing Eboli in Don Carlo.
In 1978 she played the title role of Carmen opposite Placido Domingo in Franco Zeffirelli's television production of the opera. She also appeared as Santuzza in Zeffirelli's film version of Cavalleria Rusticana in 1982.
In 1990 she was awarded the Order of Lenin and golden medal Hammer and Sickle for her contribution to the development of Soviet Music.
In June 2007 Elena Obraztsova was appointed artistic director of opera at the Mikhaylovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg where she taught for a year and appeared there. She will be remembered as an extraordinary artist with a very distinctive sound.
Relations between Elena Obratsova and legendary soprano, Galina Vishnevskaya (and her husband the renowned Cellist, Rostropovich) were always strained dating back to the early Soviet times when Vishnevskaya and her husband took in the dissident Alexander Soltzynitzin. Between the two women there was always emnity with Vishnevskaya mentioning the feud in her famous book- A Russian Story. She claimed Obratsova tried to turn the authorities against her for "artistic and moral outrages" - a claim Obratsova always denied. Whatever the truth was- it was clear both women were welcomed in the West although Obratsova always maintained strong ties with Russia....Vishnevskaya less so.