(Born 21 October 1925)
Virginia Zeani is a Romanian soprano, particularly associated with the Italian repertory, noteably in the role of Violetta in Verdi's "La Traviata.
It was a role she would sing an estimated 648 times around the world, during her career.
In January 1950 in Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt, she sang Violetta, Nedda, Michaela and most significantly Adina in "L'elisir d'Amore" opposite the great Italian tenor Beniamo Gigli. She was only 24 - he was 60.
In 1952 at short notice, conductor Tullio Serafin chose her to replace Maria Callas as Elvira in "i Puritani" in the Teatro Communale in Florence. Her growing reputation led to invitations to many of the major opera houses of Europe.
She made her debut at La Scala, Milan in 1956, as Cleopatra in Handel's "Giulio Cesare".
Her Covent Garden debut came in 1960, to once again replace at short notice an indisposed Joan Sutherland. It was a remarkable performance and it was broadcast world-wide and has now been preserved on disc.
Virginia Zeani also appeared in Barcelona, Leningrad, Moscow, Philadelphia, Bucharest etc. and eventually in New York's Metropolitan Opera, as Violetta, in 1966.
She retired from the operatic stage in 1983 and today teaches voice to young aspiring singers- many of whom are enjoying international success.
She is pictured here in her most famous role - as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata.
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