The original Blanche has died

The original Blanche has died


norman lebrecht

March 21, 2023

The Romanian soprano Virginia Zeani died yesterday in Florida at the age of 97.

She made her debut in 1948 as Violetta, a role she sang 648 times. Nine years later she created the role of Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites at La Scala.

She was married to the Italian bass Nicola Rossi-Lemeni from 1957 until his death in 1991.

In retirement from 1982, she was a sought-after teacher in the US.


  • SlippedChat says:

    Indiana University has one of America’s largest music schools, a sort of mini-empire occupying an entire corner of the univesity campus, with its own performance halls, including its own opera/symphony hall separate from the general university auditorium and said to have a backstage approximately the size of the Met’s.

    Both Zeani and her husband began teaching there in 1980. As noted in the news item here, he died in 1991. She continued until retiring to Florida in 2004.

    Her former IU students include Sylvia McNair, Angela Brown, Ailyn Perez, Elizabeth Futral, and Vivica Genaux.

    • Pat says:

      I once attended a performance of Boris Godunov at IU and her husband was singing Boris. He sung it in Russian because that was the only way he knew it. Before the program I was reading the program and this was mentioned. I remember saying to myself this is going to be a disaster but was I wrong. The other members in the cast were singing in English. It was about the best performance of that opera I ever attended.

  • Rod Corkin says:

    Asking me to subscribe with Beethoven wearing an idiot mask you can forget it…