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Angela Gheorghiu ( ; born Angela Burlacu) (born September 7, 1965) is a Romanianmarker soprano opera singer. Since her professional debut in 1990, she has sung as soprano leading roles at New York's Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden's Royal Opera Housemarker, the Vienna State Operamarker, Milan's La Scalamarker, and many other opera houses in Europe and the United States. She has a substantial discography primarily with EMI Classics and Decca.

Biography

Gheorghiu was born in 1965 in Adjudmarker, Romaniamarker. Along with her sister Elena Dan, she sang opera music from an early age. At age 14, Gheorghiu began to study singing at the National University of Music Bucharestmarker, primarily under Mia Barbu.Her graduation in 1990 coincided with the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu, enabling her to seek an international career immediately. Her professional opera debut took place at the Clujmarker Opera as Mimì in La bohème in 1990, the same year she won the Belvedere International Competition.

Gheorghiu made her international debut in 1992 at the Royal Opera Housemarker as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She debuted at the Vienna State Operamarker as Adina in L'elisir d'amore and at the Metropolitan Opera as Mimi in La bohème. In 1994, she was auditioned by the conductor Sir Georg Solti for a new production of La traviata at the Royal Opera House. Her debut as Violetta led her to international stardom.

Gheorghiu has concentrated her repertoire on several different roles: Violetta, Mimì, Magda, Adina, and Juliette. In 2003, she debuted as Nedda in Pagliacci and as Marguerite in Faust. A soprano with a large range and a dark coloured voice, Gheorghiu is also able to sing spinto roles. She has recorded Tosca (also made into a film directed by the French Benoît Jacquot) and Leonora in Il trovatore for EMI and sang in her first Tosca at the Royal Opera Housemarker, Covent Garden, in 2006. Her performance was an overall success, although because the famous Zeffirelli production of 1964 was replaced by a new production (which premiered with her), there was comparison between the Toscas of Gheorghiu and Maria Callas, for whom the Zeffirelli production was designed.

She has recorded many recital albums and complete opera recordings and often appears on television and in concerts. The EMI recording of Massenet's Manon with Angela Georghiu in the title role won the 2001 Gramophone Award for "Best Opera Recording", was nominated for "Best Opera Recording" in the 2002 Grammy Awards.

Gheorghiu at the Met and elsewhere

On occasion, Gheorghiu has had difficult relationships with opera house managements and directors. Some, but not all, of them have stemmed from her opposition to directors who, as she put it in an interview with ABC "want to express their own fantasies, forgetting about the characters. At times, she says, what they put on stage goes against both the story and the music." She has attributed her outspokenness to her upbringing in Romania under the totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu:
"Because I grew up in a country where there was no possibility of having an opinion, it makes me stronger now.
Lots of singers are frightened about not getting invited back to an opera house if they speak out.
But I have the courage to be, in a way, revolutionary.
I want to fight for opera, for it to be taken seriously.
Pop music is for the body, but opera is for the soul.".


Gheorghiu had a problematic relationship with former Metropolitan Opera General Manager Joseph Volpe after her debut there as Mimi in 1993. In 1996, Gheorghiu was cast as Micaela in a new production of Carmen, opposite Waltraud Meier and Plácido Domingo. The production by Franco Zeffirelli called for Micaela to wear a blonde wig, a nuance to which the soprano refused to wear it. Volpe famously declared, "The wig is going on, with you or without you". Gheorghiu eventually accepted and appeared in ten performances of Carmen that season, including the Met's tour to Japan, although she kept the hood of her cloak up to cover the wig as much as possible . She appeared at the Met again in 1998 for six performances of Roméo et Juliette with her husband, tenor Roberto Alagna as Roméo. Volpe had planned to engage Gheorghiu in Violetta Valery for a new production of La traviata, to premiere in November 1998 and directed by Zeffirelli. Alagna was to sing the role of Violetta's lover, Alfredo Germont. According to Volpe, Gheorghiu and Alagna argued with the staff and the director over production details and continually delayed signing the contract. They eventually signed their contracts, and faxed them to the Met one day past their deadline. Volpe refused to accept them. The production opened with Patricia Racette and Marcelo Álvarez as the lovers.

In September 2007, Gheorghiu was dismissed from Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of La bohème by General Manager William Mason, for missing rehearsals and costume fittings, and generally "unprofessional" behavior. Gheorghiu said in a statement that she had missed some rehearsals to spend time with her husband, who was singing at the Met in Roméo et Juliette and rehearsing for Puccini's Madama Butterfly and added "I have sung 'Boheme' hundreds of times, and thought missing a few rehearsals wouldn't be a tragedy. It was impossible to do the costume fitting at the same time I was in New York. .

Six weeks later, Gheorghiu made her debut at San Francisco Opera receiving favorable reviews for her Magda in that company's new production of La rondine. The San Francisco Opera production originated with London's Royal Opera Housemarker, where it premiered on May 7, 2002 with Gheorghiu and Alagna as Magda and her lover Ruggiero. It is one which she particularly admires:
"When the curtain opened on La rondine at Covent Garden, the audience gasped and applauded.
People want to dream.
If directors want to do something new with operas, why not do something beautiful?"


Despite these issues, Gheorghiu and Alagna returned to the Metropolitan Opera for five performances of L'elisir d'amore in 1999 and for four performances of Faust in 2003. Gheorghiu also performed at the Met as Liu in Turandot in 2000; as Violetta in La traviata opposite Jonas Kaufmann in 2006 and 2007; as Amelia in Simon Boccanegra in 2007; as Mimì in La bohème in 2008; as Magda in the 2008-09 season in the ROH/SFO production of La rondine, the Met's first performance of the opera since 1936; and for the 2009-10 season she will be seen as Violetta, replacing her previous engagement as Marie Antoinette in a rare revival of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles replaced due to the recession.

In August, 2009, Gheorghiu canceled all her scheduled 2010 Met performances of Carmen, for "personal reasons". It was to be her first public performance of the title role (normally sung by mezzo-sopranos). She also cancelled other Met performances scheduled near the end of 2010.

Personal life

Divorced from her first husband, from whom she retained her surname, Gheorghiu married tenor Roberto Alagna in 1996. The couple have sung together often on stage and on studio recordings. She was once chosen the 74th "most beautiful" woman in the world by the magazine FHM. In October 2009, Alagna said in an interview in Le Figaro that he and Angela Gheorghiu had separated.

Recordings

  • La traviata (Verdi) Decca 1994 CD/DVD
  • The Puccini Experience RCA 1995
  • L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti) Decca 1996 CD/DVD
  • Arias Decca 1996
  • La rondine (Puccini) EMI 1996
  • Carmen (Bizet) Teldec 1996
  • Duets and Arias EMI 1996
  • Roméo et Juliette (Gounod) EMI 1998
  • My World Decca 1998
  • Verdi per Due EMI 1998
  • La bohème (Puccini) Decca 1999
  • Il trittico (Puccini) EMI 1999
  • Werther (Massenet) EMI 1999
  • Verdi Heroines Decca 2000
  • Manon (Massenet) EMI 2000
  • Verdi: Messa da Requiem (Verdi) EMI 2001 CD/DVD
  • Casta Diva EMI 2001
  • Mysterium - Sacred Arias Decca 2001
  • Tosca soundtrack (Puccini) EMI 2001 CD/DVD
  • Live From Covent Garden EMI 2002 CD/DVD
  • Il trovatore (Verdi) EMI 2002
  • Proms at the Palace Opus Arte 2002 DVD
  • Roméo et Juliette (Gounod) Arthaus Musik 2003
  • Carmen (Bizet) EMI 2003
  • The Essential Angela Gheorghiu Decca 2004
  • Diva EMI 2004
  • Puccini EMI 2005
  • Art of Angela Gheorghiu Decca 2004 DVDx2
  • Live From La Scala EMI 2007
  • La traviata (Verdi) Arthaus Musik 2007 DVD/Blu-ray
  • Marius et Fanny Larghetto 2008
  • Angela & Roberto Forever" EMI 2008
  • My Puccini EMI 2008
  • Madama Butterfly (Puccini) EMI 2009
  • La bohème (Live from the Met) (Puccini) EMI 2008 DVD


References

  1. John Warrack and Ewan West, 'Gheorghiu, Angela', The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera, Oxford University Press, 1996; Nicolas Slonimsky and Laura Diane Kuhn, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Gale Group, 2001, p.1264; David M. Cummings, 'Gheorghiu, Angela', International Who's Who in Classical Music, Routledge, 2003, p.274
  2. Roberto Alagna - People Magazine 21 June 1999
  3. Vienna Chamber Opera: International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition
  4. Biography on Official website (2004)
  5. Bio of Angela Gheorghiu - The Metropolitan Opera
  6. Crory, Neil (2005) "Recommended CD Recordings: Puccini: Angela Gheorghiu" Opera Canada 46(2): p.47
  7. 2002 Grammy Nominees, Grammy Award Spotlight, CNN. Note that the Grammy awards recognize accomplishments by musicians from the previous year.
  8. Paul Cutts Alagna scores second Gramophone Awards success, Gramophone, October 19, 2001.
  9. "que quiere expresar sus fantasías, olvidándose de los personajes. A veces, lo que se representa en el escenario va en contra de la historia y de la música." in Susana Gaviña, «Yo tengo el control en la ópera», ABC, May 18, 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  10. Warwick Thompson, Her serene highness, The Times, May 4, 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  11. Alan Kozinn, Debriefing/Joseph Volpe; How Pavarotti Got a Proper Farewell, New York Times, March 21, 2004. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  12. Anthony Tommasini, Hesitating Celebrity Couple Loses a Met Opera Contract, New York Times, April 4, 1998. Retrieved 3 June 2008
  13. Lyric Opera of Chicago fires soprano Angela Gheorghiu Associated Press, via The International Herald Tribune, September 28, 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  14. Joshua Kosman, Gheorghiu's debut worth the wait in Opera's 'La Rondine', San Francisco Chronicle, November 9, 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  15. Georgia Rowe, Angela Gheorghiu is the wind beneath the wings of 'La Rondine', The Oakland Tribune, November 13, 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2008
  16. Robert Thicknesse, The angel comes down to earth, The Times, June 11, 2004. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  17. Walker, Tim, "Soprano Angela Gheorghiu refuses to sing in New Year", The Telegraph, 13 August 2009. Accessed 10 October 2009
  18. Ed Vulliamy, Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna: A double act of arias and anger, The Observer, December 17, 2006; With a voice like that, she’s allowed to be a nightmare, The Times, June 11, 2006.
  19. Lutaud, Léna "Roberto Alagna et Angela Gheorghiu se séparent", Le Figaro, 8 October 2009. Accessed 8 October 2009


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