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Russian Personalities

People well-known in art, sport, film, fashion

Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich

Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich

Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich

Galina Vishnevskaya was the greatest soprano, Russian opera diva, who was named People’s Artist of the USSR in 1966, actress, teacher, and theater director.
Galina was born on October 25, 1926 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).
She made her debut in 1944 singing operetta. In 1952 Galina won a competition held by the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
She had sung the great soprano roles in all of the major opera houses of the world: Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala opera house in Milan, Royal Opera House in London.
Galina’s maiden name was Ivanova. She married Georgi Vishnevsky, a Russian Navy officer, during the siege of Leningrad. They divorced two months after the marriage. Director of the Leningrad Theater of Operetta Mark Rubin became her second husband.
Vishnevskaya’s third husband was cellist Mstislav Rostropovich (from 1955 until his death in 2007); they often performed together.

In 1974 Galina and Mstislav took their children and left the Soviet Union and settled in the United States.
Rostropovich and his wife founded the Rostropovich – Vishnevskaya Foundation, a publicly supported non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.
The life and career of Vishnevskaya and her famous husband was not smooth all the time. In 1978 Galina and Mstislav Rostropovich were stripped of their Soviet citizenship for the “systematic acts that bring harm to the prestige of the Soviet Union” mainly because of their friendship and patronizing Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The couple asked the Soviet government for an extended leave and left the Soviet Union and settled in the United States and Paris. She returned to Russian in the 90th.
In 2002, Galina opened her own opera theatre in Moscow, the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center.
In 2006, they were featured in Alexander Sokurov’s documentary Elegy Of Life: Rostropovich, Vishnevskaya. The film was premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
Vishnevskaya was the owner of numerous international awards and prizes: she was a Chevalier of France’s Legion of Honor and was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the USSR as well as the Order of Lenin. She was also the author of the bestseller, Galina: A Russian Story. The book was staged as an opera in 1996, with the music by Marcel Landowski.
Galina starred in such films as Provincial Benefit (1993, based on the play by Alexander Ostrovsky) and Alexandra (2007, directed by Alexander Sokurov).
The great Russian singer died on December 11, 2012. She was one of the most influential singers of the XXth century. The Opera star died at her house in Zhukovka, surrounded by the family
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Galina Vishnevskaya and Mstislav Rostropovich