Teresa Berganza has died

Teresa Berganza has died


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2022

The great Spanish mezzo passed away in the last few hours. She was 89.

Berganza was a dominant stage presence in the second half of the 20th century.

Born in Madrid she studied with Lola Rodriguez de Aragon, a pupil of Elisabeth Schumann, and made her debut as Dorabella in Così fan tutte in 1957 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Within months, she was at La Scala debut and Glyndebourne, followed by most majopr houses, though it took the Met ten years to invite her.

Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia was one of her signature roles, along with Carmen.

She married the pianist and composer Felix Lavilla.


  • Chris Ponto says:

    Very sad news. Warm, beautiful voice, immaculate technique. A fantastic Mozart and Rossini singer (among others) that raised the barre in her day.

  • Carlo says:

    Grazie Teresa. RIP

  • Carlo says:

    Grazie Teresa! RIP

  • Murray Citron says:

    I have her fine recording of the Alessandro Scarlatti Stabat Mater, along with Mirella Freni and the Orchestre de Chambre Paul Kuentz conducted by Charles Mackerras (Archiv Produktion LP 2533 324)…an operatic approach I’m glad to have in my collection.

  • Frederick Paul Walter says:

    A marvelously elegant singer!

  • Paul Dawson says:

    I adored (and still adore) her recording of Cenerentola with Abbado. So much so that in my very impoverished days, I forked out hefty money for good seats to see them perform this (twice!) when La Scala visited ROH in (?) 1976. It was money well spent.


    • sonicsinfonia says:

      I saw those La Scala performances too (the alternate cast for La Cenerentola, so never saw Berganza) – I have just had the original poster restored and reframed.

      • Paul Dawson says:

        You’ve jogged my memory. I now have a suspicion that she may not have sung in the second performance I saw, although I am pretty certain that Abbado conducted. That would explain how I was able to get a ticket after seeing the first performance. I would have expected an immediate sellout for any performance of hers.

  • José says:

    A truly wonderful singer. Here is a collection of her zarzuela work:


  • Nick2 says:

    I echo the sentiments of previous posters. Teresa Berganza was a wonderful mezzo and has left some marvellous sound and video memories of her remarkable career.

    I first saw her in the wonderfully witty Ponnelle Cenerentola from the Maggio Musicale which was brought to the Edinburgh Festival I believe in 1971. She was then finally persuaded by the Festival Director to take on the role of Carmen that she had long resisted. The production Peter Diamond created around her was magnificent with Domingo as her Don Jose, Abbado and the LSO, simple but hugely effective scenery by Ezio Frigerio, all under the excellent direction of Piero Faggioni. Although Leona Mitchell had been booked as Micaela, Mirella Freni flew over to sing the role at the first performance to support her “friend” Teresa. The recording subsequently made is still available on a budget label.

    I was thrilled to be involved in a small way in that production. In his book “Conducted Tour”, the noted author, critic and journalist Bernard Levin stated that this was almost certainly the finest production of the work since its first performance.

    I later worked with Mme. Berganza on several other occasions. Away from the stage, she was always warm and generous. RIP dear Teresa.

  • Willym says:

    I saw her Carmen, Ruggerio in Alcina and Cherubino but sadly missed Cenerentola because I took ill. She was an elegant, warm and fascinating singer. Her Carmen stays in my mind to this day.

    She became a muched loved teacher and her master classes were a reflection of her warmth as a person and her art as a musician.

  • Ari Bocian says:

    She was my first (and favorite) Rosina, and her recording of Carmen is great too.

    However, she was born in 1935, so that means she lived to be 87, not 89. Still thankful that we had her for as long as we did.

  • Shirley Rosenhohn says:

    In the DECCA recording of Händel’s “Alcina” with the magnificent and unforgettable Joan Sutherland conducted by Richard Bonynge, is Teresa Bergana the very best “Ruggiero” I have ever heard, also both recordings of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro under Otto Klemperer and Daniel Barenboim is her Cherubino sublime, her Dorabella in Così fan tutte” with the marvelous Pilar Lorengar as Fiordiligi conducted by Sir Georg Solti are both ladies unsurpassed. I could go on and on, as I love her Rossini, Gluck, Falla, Bizet, Spanish zarzuelas etc. but I am afraid I would need much more space than the scope of this site allows. Berganza has now joined Victoria de los Angeles and all the very best colleagues in order to bring joy to G’d and the angels in heaven, thank goodness we have her recordings…
    Shirley Rosenhohn

  • M McAlpine says:

    Lovely singer. Left some great recordings.

  • Peter Mack says:

    She was simply wonderful. Effortlessly elegant.
    Here she is with her husband in Montsalvatge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzfEg8K1HTk

  • Charles Kaye says:

    R.I.P. dear Teresa – and thank you for countless wonderful memories as your manager with Lies Askonas 1972-77.

  • Una says:


    A very nice conversation here between Teresa Berganza and Bruce Duffie in Chicago done years ago for WNIB. Great insight and worth a read.

  • Steve Bauman says:

    One of my absolute goddesses of singing. She could do no wrong. I did a production San Francisco Opera production of Carmen with her in 1981 as a supernumerary. She was not only so warmly open and kind to me and the other supers, but to everyone else in that production. I have and cherish most of her recordings and videos.

    I have so few real gods and goddesses of singing worthy of that title. She is indeed one of a kind. A great lady. A great artist.

    Con amore.


  • NorCalMichael says:

    It’s a pleasure to read all of these comments about such a consummate singer and artist.

    I have always loved her recordings of Spanish songs. She made several for Decca and then, at mid/late career, two superb recordings for the Swiss label Claves. One of South American songs (Villa-Lobos, Braga, and Guastavino) and the other of Spanish songs. Both are among my most cherished recordings.

    RIP Teresa!

  • Gerald says:

    Sad; but 89 is a full life and I’m sure she left with few regrets. That is an accomplishment to admire.