Opera Scotland

Teresa Berganza Suggest updates

Teresa Berganza Vargas.

Born Madrid, 16 March 1933.

Died Madrid, 13 May 2022.

Spanish mezzo-soprano.

Teresa Berganza had an important international career, with major engagements from the start.  Her three areas of particular expertise were the operas of Mozart and Rossini and the Spanish song literature.  She remained a remarkably boyish interpreter of Cherubino throughout her career.  After years of resistance she was at last persuaded to tackle the title role in Carmen, initially in the intimate King's Theatre at the 1977 Edinburgh International Festival, where she was already a hugely popular visitor.

She studied at the Madrid Conservatory, graduating in 1954.  Her teacher, Lola Rodriguez Aragón had herself been a student of Elisabeth Schumann.  Her debut was at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 1957 (Dorabella) and she returned there regularly as Rosina,  Dido (Purcell), Cherubino,  Ottavia (Monteverdi) and Ruggiero (Handel's Alcina).

Her debut in Milan, at the recently opened Piccola Scala, came in 1958 (Isolier Le Comte Ory).  The same year she appeared at Dallas (Isabella), also singing Neris (Cherubini's Medea) in a cast that included Callas and Vickers.

She returned to the USA for performances at Chicago, New York Met and San Francisco.  Continental appearances included the Salzburg Festival, as well as Paris, Milan, Florence, Vienna, Hamburg and Zürich.

Her first appearance in Britain was at Glyndebourne in 1958 (Cherubino) and 1959 (Angelina).  She only sang with the Covent Garden company in 1960 (Rosina), 1963 (Cherubino) and 1984 (Carmen), though she also came to the Royal Opera House in 1976 with the company from La Scala (Cenerentola).

That famous Ponnelle production of La cenerentola was initially a co-production between Florence and Edinburgh.  It was given at both festivals in 1971, conducted by Claudio Abbado.  Directed and designed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle this production was eventually seen around the world and was brought to Covent Garden in 1976.  Berganza returned to Edinburgh for the Geraint Evans staging of Le nozze di Figaro, conducted by Daniel Barenboim (1975-6).  She eventually sang her first Carmen there with Domingo conducted by Claudio Abbado (1977-8).

Concert appearances at the Edinburgh Festival include Falla's unfinished cantata L'Atlántida and the Stravinsky ballet Pulcinella.

She gave a recital in Glasgow, and much later toured with Roderick Brydon and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, singing Haydn arias in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

On film she sings Zerlina in Don Giovanni, directed by Joseph Losey.  There is a TV film of Carmen. made in 1980.  The Aix-en-Provence Alcina (with colleagues including Christiane Eda-Pierre and Valerie Masterson as the sisters) was filmed for TV, but does not seem to have been released commercially.

Her recordings include Handel (Ruggiero Alcina with Sutherland and Bonynge);   Mozart (Cherubino, Zerlina, Dorabella, Sesto);  Rossini (Isabella,  Rosina,  Angelina);  Bizet (Carmen);  Offenbach (La Périchole);  Massenet (Dulcinée Don Quichotte);   Puccini (Suzuki) and  Stravinsky (Pulcinella).  There are also many recordings of her Spanish repertoire both the famous songs and less well-known zarzuela.  The latter include works by Chapí (La bruja); Giménez (La tempranica);  Serrano (Los claveles, La dolorosa) and Sorozábal (Adiós a la bohemia).

Roles in Scotland

Pyrene Queen of the Pyrenees
Atlántida 1962
Angelina known as Cinderella, Magnifico's stepdaughter
Cenerentola 1971
Teresa Berganza 1973
Cherubino the Count's page
Nozze di Figaro 1975
Nozze di Figaro 1976
Carmen a gypsy
Carmen 1977
Carmen 1978

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