Teresa Berganza is a superb Rossini singer, a virtuoso in Mozart and a one-of-a-kind Carmen. She was hailed from the outset by the press in 1957 as the 20th century's "greatest mezzo-soprano".
A pupil of Lola Rodríguez Aragón, she was first spotted by Gabriel Dussurget, then director of the international opera festival in Aix-en-Provence. She made her debut at the festival in 1957 in the role of Dorabella in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.
Her performance of the role was an immense triumph. It was a decisive point in her life, when she realised what the profession entailed and all that was expected of her. "I was stricken with stage fright; it was a huge responsibility".
Determined not to disappoint, the Spanish singer worked relentlessly throughout her career, shining particularly in roles by Mozart (Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro) and Rossini (Rosina or Cenerentola). Later, her interpretation of Carmen stood out from any previously-heard performances of the role for its finely-nuanced vocal tone. She brought a totally new substance to the role. Teresa Berganza wrote in a letter: "Carmen is not a sluttish, superficial woman; she is not capricious or scatterbrained." She made her a smart, free woman, in control of her destiny.
Teresa Berganz was a peerless recitalist, a specialist in zarzuela and a confirmed teacher. She sang at the most prestigious international opera houses, including La Scala in Milan, the Staatsoper in Vienna, the Opéra in Paris, Covent Garden in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
She is the first woman to have become a member of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, the supreme distinction for a Spanish artist.
Six landmark dates in the life of Teresa Berganza:
1957: sang Dorabella at the Festival international d'art lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence
1977: sang Carmen at the Edinburgh Festival
1979: sang Zerlina in Joseph Losey's film, Don Giovanni
1983: sang at the Deutsche Oper Berlin: a huge success and a turning point in her career.
2002: Awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur distinction in France.
2005: Became Doctor "Honoris Causa" of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Six key recordings by Teresa Berganza:
Georges Bizet: Carmen
London Symphony Orchestra - Conducted by Claudio Abbado
DG 1978 �
Una voce poco fa - A Portrait of Teresa Berganza
Opera arias and 8 Basque songs
Rossini: La Cenerentola
Abbado, Berganza, Alva, Capecchi
Deutsche Grammophon 2007
Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Haydn, Rossini: Cantatas
Sings 17th Century Italian Songs (CD)
Claves / Switzerland CD'S 1989