Mexico’s great mezzo has died

Mexico’s great mezzo has died


norman lebrecht

November 28, 2013

Oralia Dominguez, who sang Amneris on her debut opposite Maria Callas as Aida, has died in Milan, aged 88.

She appeared in all the major European houses and created the role of Madame Sosostris in Michael Tippett‘s The Midsummer Marriage. Her last appearance was in 1982, singing Verdi’s Requiem in Mexico City. Just listen to that ringing sonority….

oralia dgoralia_dominguez_muerte_opera-web


  • Robert says:

    A sad loss. I discovered this lady on the Erich Leinsdorf recording of Il Tabarro – circa 1971 – in which she proved to be a very effective La Frugola. Why her fame was not greater throughout the Western musical world, I cannot fathom.

  • Marcus Overton says:

    Her performance as Jocasta in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s OEDIPUS REX in 1969 was quite easily one of the two or three most thrilling performances I have ever seen. Musically, it was not only immaculate but deeply felt. Her stillness belied every notion of “traditional” acting and projected the smallest detail of the performance to the back of that cavernous opera house. The previous year she had conjured up a Mistress Quickly (alongside Geraint Evans, Raina Kabaivanska, Norman Mittlemann and other members of a great cast) that seemed to be on hidden roller skates. As a colleague, she was an embodiment of collegiality, politesse and warm personal access. Forty-four years have passed since I saw her last, and Iam yet thankful every day that I knew her and had the great good fortune to watch her at work and to have been even a small part of her artistry.

  • Marcus Overton says:

    Apologies for conflating two separate productions of FALSTAFF in Chicago: in 1968 the title role was sung by Tito Gobbi – Geraint’s somewhat different take on the part came later.

  • Girvice Archer,Jr says:

    Mr. Overton’s nostalgic comments inspire me to make a feeble attempt. As a medical student in Dallas in the 60s I had the good fortune to drive her to evening rehearsals at the State Fair Music Hall. She was an unforgettable Principessa in Suor Angelica opposite Ilva Ligabue and it was her economy of movement alongside subtle detail that made her riveting. In the revival of Medea that introduced Magda Olivero to America, Oralia had little to do except for her Act 2 aria. But the seconda donna kept the house completely rapt with her deeply felt and classically sung plea to her mistress. It was somewhat of a relief to be serenaded by that cello-like voice after the stormy verismo of Magda. Oralia also took the small role of Marcellina in Nozze and was a stitch to hear in a wonderful ensemble that included Caballe, Casoni, and Sciutti.

    Oralia had little English and communication was difficult but she wrote lovely, warm letters and postcards from Europe telling of her engagements and recordings.She was proud that von Karajan had remembered and engaged her for the role of Erda in his Siegfried recording and she presented me with the copy that he had signed for the cast which she then signed for me…a lovely remembrance.

    Two of her live performances are seminal for me; a Delila opposite Vickers and a Verdi Requiem conducted by Fricsay and recent releases of her Das Lied von der Erde, Alto Rhapsody, and Mahler’s 2nd under Bernstein are thrilling in their intensity and technical control. It is incomprehensible why her career seems so restricted and foreshortened.