Irina Arkhipova (Irina Arkhipova)

Irina Arkhipova

Opera Singer. A mezzo soprano, she was for many years a star of Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera while earning acclaim in the world’s leading venues. Raised in Moscow, she graduated with a degree in architecture from the Moscow Institute in 1948; having musical ambitions, she studied at the Moscow Conservatory before commencing her professional career with the Sverdlovsk Opera in 1954. There, she refined her skills and first presented what were to become her signature pieces in the Russian, French, and Italian repertoire, giving her initial performances as Marfa in Modest Mussorgsky’s “Khovanshchina”, Charlotte in Jules Massenet’s “Werther”, and Princess Eboli in Verdi’s “Don Carlo”. The title lead of Georges Bizet’s masterpiece “Carmen” was the vehicle for her 1956 Bolshoi debut; her home theatre was to see her in the Russian staples including Marina in Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” and Helene in Sergei Prokofiev’s “War and Peace” as well as in numerous lesser-known works. Irina made her 1960 Naples bow as Carmen then was Helene for her La Scala Milano debut in 1964. Singing in the capitals of Europe, she was first seen at London’s Covent Garden as Azucena in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”, later adding the fortune teller Ulrica from the same composer’s “Un Ballo in Maschera”. She first sang in America at a recital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before appearing at the San Francisco Opera as the frustrated Amneris from Verdi’s “Aida”. Initially performing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera with the Kirov as the Old Countess in Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades” in 1992, she made her ‘official’ Metropolitan debut in 1997 as another Tchaikovsky character, Filippyevna from “Eugene Onegin”. Irina was honored as People’s Artist of the USSR in 1966, was a three time recipient of the Order of Lenin, and from the mid-1970s on was a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1993 she and her husband, tenor Vladislav Piavko, started a foundation to assist in the training of young singers with which she remained active. Irina died of heart disease leaving a number of recordings, including a notable 1972 “Khovanshchina”. (bio by: Bob Hufford)


  • December, 02, 1925
  • Russia


  • February, 02, 2010
  • Russia


  • Novodevichy Cemetery
  • Russia

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