Galina; A Russian Story

San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984. First Edition [Stated], First Printing [Stated]. Hardcover. xiii, [1]. 519,[7] pages. Occasional footnotes. Characters in a Russian Story. Illustrations. Repertory, Discography. Index. DJ worn, torn and chipped. Signed by author on fep. The world-renowned diva describes her life in the Soviet Union, her marriage to Mstislav Rostropovich, her career, and their departure from Russia, in an account of artistic life in the USSR. Galina Pavlovna Vishnevskaya (25 October 1926 – 11 December 2012) was a Russian opera singer and recitalist who was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1966. She made her professional stage debut in 1944 singing operetta. She won a competition held by the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (with Rachmaninoff's song "O, Do Not Grieve" and Verdi's aria "O patria mia" from Aida) in 1952. The next year, she became a member of the Bolshoi Theatre. On 24 March 1957, she made her debut in Finnish National Opera as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. On 9 May 1960, she made her first appearance in Sarajevo at the National Theatre, as Aida. In 1961, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Aida; the following year she made her debut at the Royal Opera House as Aida. For her La Scala debut in 1964, she sang Liù in Turandot. Vishnevskaya also sang roles such as Violetta, Tosca, Cio-cio-san, Leonore, and Cherubino. Benjamin Britten wrote the soprano role in his War Requiem (completed 1962) specially for her, though the USSR prevented her from traveling to Coventry Cathedral for the premiere performance. The USSR eventually allowed her to leave in order to make the first recording of the Requiem. Vishnevskaya was married to the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich from 1955 until his death in 2007; they performed together regularly (he on piano or on the podium). Both she and Rostropovich were friends of Dmitri Shostakovich, and they made an electrifying recording of his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for EMI. In 1974, the couple asked the Soviet government for an extended leave and left the Soviet Union. Eventually they settled in the United States and Paris. In 1982, the soprano bade farewell to the opera stage, in Paris, as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. In 1987, she stage directed Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride in Washington, D.C. In 1984, Vishnevskaya published a memoir, Galina: A Russian Story, and in 2002, she opened her own opera theatre in Moscow, the "Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre". In 2006, she was featured in Alexander Sokurov's documentary Elegy of a life: Rostropovich, Vishnevskaya. In 2007, she starred in his film Alexandra, playing the role of a grandmother coming to see her grandson in the Second Chechen War. The film premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. In the last week of her life, Russian President Vladimir Putin honored her with the First Class Order of Merit for the Fatherland. Derived from a Kirkus review: An awesome combination: the galvanic musical/theatrical memoirs of the greatest Russian soprano of our time--inextricably interwoven with the horrors of wartime Russia, the dreadful Soviet bureaucracy, the outrage of government persecution. . . that led to Vishnevskaya's 1970s emigration West, with cellist/husband Rostropovich. Galina was raised by her grandmother--who was fatally burned before Galina's eyes during the cold/famine ordeals of 1941. The starving teenager joined a civilian-labor unit, fixing sewers, then ran off to Leningrad to pursue her singing ambitions. Untrained, she toured in operetta, married, lost her baby son, nearly died herself of tuberculosis, became an Edith Piaf-ish soloist-known as a "charming but 'voiceless' singer." Then, thanks to a beloved 80-year-old teacher, her true soprano emerged--with a triumphant audition at the Bolshoi: she would soon star in the first Fidelio in Soviet history, along with Aida, Eugene Onegin, etc. But the politics of Bolshoi stardom were made crudely clear from the start: KGB recruits on all sides, demeaning state appearances, deceit and manipulation, plus--in Galina's case--the unwanted courtship of none other than Nikolai Bulganin. At first, then, feisty Galina was protected by Bulganin's adoration--free to travel, record. Under later regimes, however, there would be harassment, restrictions, artistic shriveling--especially after the couple made Solzhenitsyn their four-year house-guest. And this uniquely compelling account ends with a painful farewell to Russia--and the Bolshoi--forever. Throughout, Vishnevskaya is passionate, but more often enthralling, as she rages at Soviet abominations and at colleague-Judases. Her portraits of Shostakovich and Britten--both of whom wrote pieces for her--are indelible. The evocation of backstage Bolshoi doings is comic, ghastly, while the artistic achievements are never slighted. And the grand portrait of impetuous Slava--weeping, drinking, suffering for his moral courage. A very Russian story indeed: wildly emotional, dipped in blood and vodka, funny and searing. Condition: Very good / Fair.

Keywords: Russia, Opera, Singers, Performing Arts, Bolshoi, Mstislav Rostropovich, Dmitri Shostakovich, Alexander Solzhenitisyn, Moscow, Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten

ISBN: 0151342504

[Book #85678]

Price: $300.00

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