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Cotrubas, Ileana

Ileana Cotrubas

Singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Ileana Cotrubas is among the opera worlds most beloved singers. Her lyric soprano does justice to the most fanciful melodies of Mozart and Donizetti, and her extraordinary stage presence and command of acting technique lend further credibility to her performances in both lighthearted operas such as Mozarts The Abduction From the Seraglio and more dramatically demanding fare such as Verdis Don Carlo and Puccinis La Boheme. She is, in short, an extremely compelling performer. As George Movshon noted in the New York Times, Even her laughterand she laughs readilycomes in neat, musical clusters of chromatic eighth-notes.

Cotrubas was born in 1939 in Galati, Romania. Although she grew up in a fairly musical familyher father and mother both sangshe aspired, when a child, to an acting career in Hollywood. Before adolescence, however, she had joined a childrens chorus that occasionally performed on Romanian radio and in local opera presentations. Within a few years she had reached solo status in the chorus, and when her family moved from Galati to Bucharest, Romania, in the early 1950s, she entered a music school. She devoted her first two years there to a variety of studies, including conducting, playing piano and violin, and acting. In her mid-teens, she finally began concentrating on singing. Her voice, however, was considered too modest, and she was initially rejected for further study by a Bucharest conservatory. After an additional year of music theory and practice Cotrubas reapplied to the conservatory in 1958 and gained acceptance.

Under the guidance of her teachers, notably Constantin Stroescu, Cotrubas shaped her singing voice into one featuring a more adult range. This work occupied much of her time at the conservatory, though she was also able to continue her piano studies and indulge in athletics. She also studied several languages, including those in which most operas are writtenItalian, German, and French. It was as a singer of the latter language that she first appeared as a soloist in 1964 with Debussys Pelleas et Melisande at the Bucharest Opera. During the next year Cotrubas also appeared in company productions of Gounods Faust and Verdis Don Carlo and Un Ballo in Maschera. Her most impressive feat during this period, though, was as triple winner at an important Dutch vocal competition. Scoring victories in the key categories of opera, oratorio, and lieder, Cotrubas consequently appeared on the Dutch stage in Mozarts Magic Flute and The Abduction From the Seraglio. The following year Cotrubas scored another triumph at a West German competition, and her career was assured.

Throughout the remainder of the 1960s Cotrubas continued

For the Record

Born June 9, 1939, in Galati, Romania; daughter of Vasile (a civil servant) and Maria Cotrubas; married Manfred Ramin (Cotrubass singing coach and manager), 1972. Education: Attended Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory during late 1950s.

Opera and concert singer. Debuted as Yniold in Pellas et Melisande at Bucharest Opera, 1964; has since appeared at major opera houses and concert halls, including Frankfurt Opera, 1968, Glyndebourne Festival, 1968, Salzburg Festival, 1969, Royal Opera House (Covent Garden, London), 1971, Paris Opera, 1974, La Scala (Milan), 1975, and Metropolitan Opera (New York), 1977.

Awards: Won three first-place prizes at singing contest in Hertognebosch, Holland, 1965; won first prize in Munich radio-television contest, 1966; Austrian Kammersangerin, 1981.

Addresses: Home Monte Carlo. Office c/o Columbia Artists Management, Inc., 165 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019; and c/o The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London W.C.2, England.

to sing in Europe. Among her greatest successes at this time was as Melisande at a Glyndebourne Festival production in 1969 under conductor John Pritchard. The next year she again thrilled British audiences when she appeared at Londons Covent Gardenhome of the Royal Opera Housein a production of Tchaikovshys Eugene Onegin. Cotrubass sensitive portrayal in the latter work proved especially endearing, and in the ensuing years the British public came to hold her in what Movshon described in the New York Times as unusual affection.

After her first British appearances, however, Cotrubas returned to the continent and sang for three years with the Vienna State Opera. Among her greatest performances with the Vienna company was as the tubercular courtesan Violetta in Verdis drama La Traviata. This role has been an especially befitting one for Cotrubas, as it allows her to express the vulnerability that is her specialty. Years later, she recorded the role opposite celebrated tenor Placido Domingo in what Newsweeks Annalyn Swan described as a supurb rendition, one that ranks with the best available. Swan, who also assessed Cotrubass 1981 performances of La Traviata at New York Citys Metropolitan Opera, noted that from the moment she sweeps onstage hers is a memorable Violettasweet, vulnerable and infinitely touching. Cotrubas, Swan added, transforms a domestic drama into something approaching tragedy.

Cotrubass first triumph in America, however, had come eight years earlier when she appeared as Mimi in the Chicago Lyric Operas presentation of Puccinis La Boheme. Like Violetta in La Traviata, Mimi is tubercular, and like Violetta, the role of Mimi affords Cotrubas ample opportunity to display her gifs for endearingly expressive vocalization and expression. Puccinis opera has also proved a key work for Cotrubas, as it was the opera with which she made her debuts at two of the worlds greatest opera housesLa Scala and the Metropolitan. At La Scala, she was a last-minute replacement in 1975 opposite the great Luciano Pavarotti who, upon learning that scheduled soprano Mirella Freni was ill, reportedly cried, Get Cotrubas! Recalling the event, Cotrubas told the New York Times, In the end they shouted and shouted, and Pavarotti left me alone for the applause. And I thanked God.

She was similarly successful in La Boheme at the Metropolitan, where her performance prompted New York Times reviewer Raymond Ericson to describe her as an unusually fine artist. Following her successes in the mid-1970s with La Traviata and La Boheme, Cotrubas has consolidated her reputation with a variety of performance on stage and record. At the Metropolitan, she has appeared in works such as Verdis Rigoletto and Mozarts Idomeneo (both performances were televised); at Glyndebourne she drew praise for her work in Verdis Don Carlo and Benjamin Brittens A Midsummer Nights Dream (both productions have been recorded on video tape); and in Chicago she triumphed in a mid-1980s production of Puccinis La Rondine. Aside from La Traviata, Cotrubass greatest operatic recordings include Donnizettis LEliser dAmore (opposite Domingo) and Mozarts The Magic Flute. In addition, she has appeared on recordings of Hugo Wolfs lieder and Haydns The Seasons.

Though diminuitive and endearing, Cotrubas has also developed a reputation as an exacting, demanding performer, one who is adamant in her refusal to compromise her work. As such, she is sometimes characterized as egomaniacal and uncooperative. She disputed these charges to Opera News interviewer Thomas Lanier, to whom she explained: Im demanding a lot from other people because Im giving. I have to give, because I have some special qualities; like any artist, I have to transmit these feelings, and I cant do this without a good conductor, understanding colleagues, and a serious director. Cotrubas is not without confidence, though. Pondering the British publics particular enthusiasm for her, she mused to the New York Times, Maybe it is because I am good.

Selected discography

Arias by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini, Columbia, 1977.

Gaetano Donizetti, LElisir dAmore, Columbia, 1977.

Giuseppe Verdi, La Traviata, Deutsche Grammophon, 1977.

Franz Joseph Haydn, The Seasons, London, 1978.

Verdi, Rigoletto, Deutsche Grammophon, 1981.

Giacomo Puccini, Gianni Schicchi, Columbia.

George Bizet, Carmen, Deutsche Grammophon.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro.

Mozart, The Magic Flute, RCA.

Englebert Humperdinck, Hansel and Gretel.

Sources

High Fidelity, June, 1978.

Newsweek, April 6, 1981.

New York Times, March 25, 1977; April 10, 1977.

Opera News, September, 1975; December, 1977; March 28, 1981.

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"Cotrubas, Ileana." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Cotrubas, Ileana." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/cotrubas-ileana

"Cotrubas, Ileana." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/cotrubas-ileana

Cotrubas, Ileana

Cotrubas, Ileana (b Galati, Romania, 1939). Romanian soprano. Début Bucharest Opera 1964 (Yniold in Pelléas et Mélisande). Salzburg Fest. début 1967; Frankfurt Opera 1968–71; Vienna Opera 1969, thereafter regular appearances there; Glyndebourne 1969 and 1970; CG 1971; Chicago from 1973; Milan 1974; NY Met 1977. Farewell recital CG 1989.

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"Cotrubas, Ileana." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Cotrubas, Ileana." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cotrubas-ileana

"Cotrubas, Ileana." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/cotrubas-ileana