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Contact: irina.stanescu@ymail.com
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A discreet legend - Virginia Zeani


I wrote about this great lady and I'll keep writing when I have the occasion. Jon Tolansky talked to her about her life and musical career and the result was published in the November issue of the British magazine "Opera". The article is online. Go HERE. Then down the page click on the picture of the November issue and then go to page 1321. Enlarge the page to be able to read.
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Mrs Zeani sung 68 roles with some of the most famous tenors of our times: Beniamino Gigli, Tito Gobbi, Mario del Monaco, Carlo Bergonzi, Alfredo Kraus, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti but her career ended in 1982. She tells the story of her life before, during and after being in the spotlights. How she begun singing at 13, how she first performed Violeta at 22 at Teatro Duse in Bologna (replacing Sutherland). Then in 1952 she successfully replace Maria Callas in I Puritani (Elvira). Later on in 1956 she premiered Dialogues des Carmelites by Pulenc at la Scala singing the part of Blanche. Pulenc himself chose her for this part.
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After leaving the stage she started teaching at the Indiana University. She's still a teacher there.
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Angela admires her a lot. She often talks about her in interviews as you already noticed. There is a mention in this article too. The excerpts are below.
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One of her deep admirers is an artist Zeani herself holds in the highest esteem - Angela Gheorghiu. "I first heard her on recordings in Romania when I was a young girl," says Gheorghiu. "For Electrecord she sand La Traviata and Tosca, and I was amazed at the beauty of her voice, and also how she looked in the photographs. She made a great impact on me. Now, all these years later, we have become so close, we are like mother and daughter. I usually call her "Mamy Virginia" and I adore her. In each detail of our lives we have common experiences and feelings: our childhoods, living in the Communiste state, being married to a singer. We understand each other and speak about all the subjects in this world. In her performances she had the most beautiful and powerful voice, a wonderful technique, a marvellous range of colors, and a very strong force of interpretation. She had an incredibly wide repertoire - virtually all the styles, and important premieres too. And as we all know, she is a perfect teacher with many very successful students who love her. She is a major part of our operatic history".
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And for Zeani, Gheorghiu is one of the most vitally important artists in the continuation of that history. "I first saw Angela Gheorghiu when I watched the film of her La Traviata from Covent Garden in 1994. It was absolutely fantastic - this was very, very special. She is a glorious interpreter of all her roles, a truly great artist with a wonderful technique, and the most beautiful colors. She has an incredible soul and this is in her voice and in her performances. She knows and understands suffering, as I do. I so greately admire her. And now we have a wonderfully special friendship. One day, the day she and Roberto married in New York, she phoned me at Indiana University and asked if they could get to know me. Later, after I moved to Florida, they sent me the most beautiful flowers for my birthday, and then I and Angela developed a relationship of love like mother and daughter. A few years ago she came to visit me here and I was so happy - so happy. She is very important to me.
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It was as Violetta that Gheorghiu famously created a sensation at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1994. It was as Violetta that Zeani made her acclaimed debut at the same house in 1960, when she stood in for Joan Sutherland. There are quite a number of differences between these two great Romanian artists' portrayals of Violetta, but in common between them - not only as Violettas, but also as singers, artists and people - is a vital quality that Zeani refers to again and again when her students come to her: the "soul". Singing is all soul and technique and sound. It is about having the soul vibrating in the sound and having the technique to control and project it.
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I leave you with Virginia Zeani and Angela.
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La Traviata - act 3 - Addio del passato - Live from MET - 1966


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La Traviata - act 3 - Teneste la promessa and Addio del Passato - ROH - 1994



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