Teresa Berganza, Charismatic Star of the Opera Stage, died at the age of 89.


Ms. Berganza turned to José Rifá, a Spanish priest who had long admired her singing, for spiritual guidance. She left the priesthood to marry him and regularly introduced herself as Mr. Berganza she. They divorced 10 years later.

Full information about the survivors was not immediately available.

Miss Berganza made her operatic debut as Dorabella in Mozart’s play “Cosi Fan Tutte” at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France in 1957. He made his debut in Milan in 1958. Teatro alla Scala As Isolier in Rossini’s play “Le Comte Ory” The following year she debuted as Rosina in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” which would become one of Rossini’s signature roles at London’s Covent Garden. Critics were delighted with her rich, flowing contralto voice, which easily overcame the intricate embellishments required of Rossini’s heroines.

In 1967, Miss Berganza made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cherubino in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”. It was to be another popular role for him.

For years, Ms. Berganza turned down offers to play the lead role in “Carmen,” saying she found the character’s complexity very frightening. He finally agreed to play at Edinburgh’s King’s Theater in 1977. In preparation, she read Prosper Mérimée’s 1845 novel “Carmen”, on which the opera is based, and the libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.

She then spent weeks in Southern Spain interviewing women living in caves outside Granada, to “better understand the Gypsy life,” in her own words. Rejecting the portrayal of Carmen as a more traditional prostitute, she chose instead to play as a rebellious Gypsy. “She speaks with her heart, her body and her courage,” Ms. Berganza wrote in her autobiography.

Reviewing a Carnegie Hall recital in November 1982. Times critic Donal Henahan said, “The Berganza sound, always a wonder of softness and dark polish, has now become more excitingly powerful and dramatic, if at all.”



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