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One of the great Russian singers of the Twentieth Century, the Mezzo Irina Arkhipova has died in Moscow at the age of 85.


Arkipova had a wonderful , rich mezzo sound and was a vivid interpreter of many of the great mezzo roles : Carmen, Marina, Azucena, Amneris etc.

She kept her voice balanced rather than distorting it as some mezzos do , weighting it too heavily on the bottom register which makes the middle and top problematic. Arkhipova avoided this pitfall and kept her voice in healthy condition for a long, long time.

Unfortunately I only saw her once, she did appear occasionally in the NYC area but I always seemed to miss her. Also her prime was in it's later stages as I started my own attendance at opera and concert events. The Met brought her in very late, when she was already in her 70s, for a debut as the nurse in Eugene Onegin when I finally caught up to her. It was a shame that she didn't come earlier in one of her great roles.

RIP , Irina

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A breaking news release from Opera News that notes the late Met debut mentioned by Richard.

Arkhipova's first American appearance was in a recital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with John Wustman as accompanist, but most U.S. opera fans knew the mezzo's artistry only from her recordings, among them superb performances of Marina, Joan in Orleanskaya Deva and Laura in Dargomyzhsky's The Stone Guest, as well as several recital discs. She was Amneris in Aida at San Francisco Opera in 1975 but did not sing at the Metropolitan Opera House until 1992, when she appeared with the Kirov as the Old Countess in The Queen of Spades. She made her official Met debut in 1997, when she sang Filippyevna in Eugene Onegin at the age of seventy-two, creating a brilliantly detailed, warm characterization in the premiere of Robert Carsen's staging.
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