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Galina Vishnevskaya’s birthday gala at the Opera Centre

Anna Appalonova

26 October 2020

A gala concert on Galina Vishnevskaya’s birthday took place at the Opera Centre named in her honour. The tradition of holding such performances arose during the singer’s lifetime. Now it is being continued by Vishnevskaya’s students.

Flowers at Galina Vishnevskaya’s portrait are always there, but the bouquet is especially magnificent on her birthday. This is a gift from an admirer who couldn’t come to the concert. The audience gathers long before the start in order to wander around the building, to feel the atmosphere: it’s preserved by Vishnevskaya’s daughter – Olga Rostropovich.

“All the participants of the concert today are all those who studied and learned from her. All this remains in memory, and we never deviate from the principles that she set here. And, you know, when everything is based on love, and not some other interests and desires, then everything is very simple”, stressed Olga Rostropovich, the Artistic Director of the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre.

Some of the Opera Centre’s graduates have become Honoured artists of Russia and of other countries of the former Soviet Union. Agunda Kulaeva is a soloist at the Bolshoi Theatre, and she began her career here. She came to the audition, Vishnevskaya heard her even before the start, while Agunda was doing warm-up singing. A short acquaintance then has grown into a close relationship. There is a legend, that no one should perform in a red dress in front of Galina Vishnevskaya. Kulaeva did not know this then and she entered the stage in red. “Everyone felt nervous at once: the feeling was that I’ll be scolded for allowing myself such a luxury. But Galina Vishnevskaya said: “It’s OK for Anaconda”. For some reason it seemed to her that only a diva and a ready-made singer could perform in a red dress – “first one must learn to sing, and then put a red dress on,” recalls Agunda Kulaeva, – soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre, Honoured Artist of Russia.

One of Galina Vishnevskaya’s rules – oneself must be dedicated to art entirely, with no half measures or compromises. She also taught to dream – if you want to sing in a small theatre, think about La Scala. She always arranged a meeting after each concert: she sorted out mistakes, which she has always found.

Oleg Dolgov is now a soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre. Vishnevskaya heard him in the early 2000s, she invited him to a tour in Tbilisi, Georgia. He learned a new opera part, he was very worried, and Vishnevskaya noticed that, eventually replacing him with another singer. “I was summoned to her, I was told that Galina Vishnevskaya wants a word with me. She spoke like a mother to me, she said:  don’t be silly, don’t worry, you will sing this part so many times, but you have to be 200 percent self-confident. I do not see this in you at the moment. You will do it, you have it all. There is potential, but a little bit later. And so it happened”, – told the soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre Oleg Dolgov.

On this day, the singers recalled stories associated with Galina Vishnevskaya and sung in her honour.

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