Sad death of Solti’s star contralto, 76

We are saddened to learn of the death during the night of Mira Zakai, an Israeli contralto who won a Grammy for her recording of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with Sir Georg Solti and performed with most of the world’s top conductors and orchestras. She was in recovery from a stroke that she suffered a year ago.

A person of unassuming manners and profound humilty, she was the least assertive of colleagues yet always a strong presence. Like her surname, which means innocent, she seemed untouched by the darker sides of life.

Mira wrote a wonderful book of conversations with the deep-thinking, equally shy Israeli composer Andre Hajdu. Several other composers wrote for her. She retired from singing in 2000 and became Head of Lied and Oratorio at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv.

A devotee of Slipped Disc, she and I enjoyed many conversations. Amir Mandel has written a beautiful Hebrew obituary.

Her memory is blessed.

 

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  • AndrewB says:

    Such effortlessly beautiful singing reveals a great mastery of technique as well as expression.

  • I always thought Helen Watts was Solti’s favorite contralto.

  • Uzi Shalev says:

    Mira Zakai was a lovely human being who was mentor to so many singers in Israel and abroad. She was always wise, friendly and supportive. I was privileged to share the stage with her in the Upper Galilee days of music in 1990. Since then we kept in touch.
    She had a voice of velvet, so clear and expressive. I will miss her dearly. RIP, Mira.

  • She was an outstanding person and a wonderful friend. It is hard to accept her death.

  • raya gonen says:

    oh my god, I didnt know this aweful fact! just a year ago I brought her to muhlenberg college to give a master class on oratorio singing…How incredibly sad!!!

  • She left us too soon. Farewell, my dearest friend. How wise and loving you were! I shall dearly miss our yearly tete-a-tetes and concert-going in New York. You were a giant of a singer, a teacher and a Mensch.

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