Victoria de los Angeles, a Spanish soprano whose career spanned five decades as her voice was sought after for its masterful tonal control and its seemingly effortless ability to turn on the power, died Saturday. She was 81.
De los Angeles, a musical prodigy who finished Spain’s Liceo Conservatory in Barcelona in three years, instead of the usual six, performed at the Paris Opera, London’s Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Near the end of her career, she sang at the closing ceremonies of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
De los Angeles was taken to Barcelona’s Teknon Clinic on Dec. 31, suffering from bronchitis and slipped into a coma, said Carmen Urgell, a spokeswoman for the city’s Liceo Theater. She died Saturday following heart and breathing troubles.
De los Angeles was born in Barcelona in 1923 and made her opera debut at the Liceo Theater in 1945 as the countess in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro.” She went on to work with many of the world’s leading conductors, including Thomas Beecham, John Barbirolli, Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti and Zubin Mehta.
Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez was quoted by Madrid’s leading daily El Pais as saying that he was “very sad” for the death of one of the “most beautiful voices in Spain.”
Born into a musical family, De los Angeles completed a six-year course at the Liceo Conservatory in Barcelona in just three years, graduating with honors at the age of 18.
She then joined the Ars Musicae group, singing a broad repertoire that included Lieder, French and Spanish songs and the music of Baroque and Renaissance composers.
In 1944, she made her professional debut with a recital at the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona. Her opera debut came a few months later.
De los Angeles won the Geneva International Singing Competition in 1947, prompting British Broadcasting Corp. music producers to invite her to sing the part of Salud in Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s “La Vida Breve.” That began a long and much admired professional association with songs from her native country.
De los Angeles retired from the stage in 1998 after the death of one of her two sons, though she continued giving occasional recitals. She leaves an extensive recorded portfolio of 21 complete operas and more than 25 solo recital records.
Among her most acclaimed opera roles were Bizet’s “Carmen” and Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” and “La Boheme.”