Leonard Bernstein’s Leonora has died

Leonard Bernstein’s Leonora has died


norman lebrecht

February 03, 2015

The soprano Anita Darian, who was cast by Bernstein in Fidelio for a CBS-TV performance from Lincoln Center on Beethoven’s 150th anniversary, has died at the age of 87.

Endowed with a four-octave range, Anita achieved greatest exposure with her (anonymous) swooping vocals on the global hit ‘Wimaweh – The Lion Sleeps Tonight’.

Born Anita Esgandarian in Detroit on April 26, 1927, of Armenian parents, she studied at Curtis and Juilliard and sang in numerous roles on Broadway and at City Opera, notably in The King and I and The Student Prince. She went on to record John Corigliano’s esoteric rock opera, The Naked Carmen.

naked carmen


photo: Don Hunstein/Lebrecht Music&Arts

Our condolences to her life partner, Lynda Wells.





  • Russell Platt says:

    It’s Anita DARIAN, not Durian, unless you have another source. Her recording of Ned Rorem’s “Four Dialogues” (on poems of Frank O’Hara) is a cult classic.