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Edita Gruberova – Famed Coloratura Soprano Passes at 74 October 26 2021

Celebrated Slovak soprano Edita Gruberova captivated fans around the globe during a career that spanned over five decades. She died at the age of 74 on October 18, 2021, leaving behind a legacy that included over 700 performances. Take a moment to explore the life and times of this renowned performer.

The Early Life of Edita Gruberova

A very young Edita Gruberova

Edita Gruberova was born December 23, 1946. She was born in Bratislava, which is the capital of Slovakia. While Edita was a Slovak by birth, her mother was from Hungary and her father was from Germany.

Edita wanted to sing from a young age. In fact, as a schoolchild, singing was all that Edita focused on. She was always front and center when allowed to sing at school. Her friends and family all recognized her talent. Edita’s pastor also encouraged her to pursue a career as an opera singer.

[Photo] A very young Edita Gruberova, by the late 1970s.

Her pastor helped her learn to play piano to pass the exam for entering the Bratislava Conservatory. She was accepted to the conservatory and eventually went on to study at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava.

Edita Makes Her Professional Debut in Bratislava

Edita made her stage debut as Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. The performance was held at the National Theatre in Bratislava.

The role of Rosina was originally intended for contralto, which is the lowest voice type for classical women’s opera. Over the years, the character’s voice became an alto and then a soprano. It is now a staple of the opera scene.

Edita Gruberova as Manon

Shortly after her debut, Edita made her way to Toulouse, a city on the banks of the River Garonne in France. After winning a singing competition in Toulouse, Edita was invited to join the opera ensemble at the JG Tajovsky Theatre in her home country of Slovakia.

[Photo] Edita Gruberova as Manon in Massenet's opera

Joining the Vienna State Opera and Becoming an Austrian

Edita performed with the ensemble from 1968 to 1970. During her time at the theatre, she managed to audition at the Vienna State Opera. Her audition was held in the summer of 1969 while the borders to the country were closed to non-communist countries. She nailed the audition and was soon asked to perform.

The following year, Edita had her first performance with the Vienna State Opera. She played the role of the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote). The role involves many elaborate vocal runs and trills, requiring a singer with a wide vocal range and extreme agility. Edita possessed the necessary skills and had a breakout performance that helped launch her career.

Edita Gruberova as Maria Stuarda

After the success of her performance, Edita Gruberova decided to permanently emigrate to Austria. She left Slovakia in 1971 and became a member of the Vienna State Opera the following year. In 1974, Edita Gruberova officially became an Austrian citizen.

[Photo] Mrs. Gruberova as Maria Stuarda in Donizetti's opera

Edita Gains International Recognition

Edita Gruberova performed at many opera houses around the globe, including Glyndebourne in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She appeared at Glyndebourne in 1973, reprising the role of the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s The Magic Flute

While Gruberova was already enjoying a successful career, she gained additional recognition after her performance in a new production of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne on Naxos. The 1912 opera was originally produced at the Vienna State Opera. The new production was held in 1976 and led by famed Austrian conductor Karl Bohm. After the show, Karl proclaimed that he wished that Strauss were alive to have seen her performance. 

Her breakout performance was soon followed by an appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in 1977. She again played the role of the Queen of the Night, this time in a production conducted by American conductor James Conlon.

 Watch Mrs. Gruberova singing the Queen of the Night's aria in Mozart "Die Zauberflöte"

A Globe-Trotting Career Full of Awards and Recognition

Edita Gruberova stayed with the Vienna State Opera and continued to perform at the leading opera houses around the globe. She would go on to appear at the Salzburg Festival and the Royal Opera House in London. She also performed at the Zurich Opera numerous times.

Edita remained busy throughout the 1980s and 1990s, even when dealing with numerous setbacks. Edita’s husband, composer Stefan Klimo, suffered serious bouts of depression. The couple divorced in 1983. Stefan committed suicide soon after, leaving Edita with two young daughters.

Gruberova and Kraus in La Traviata

Edita Gruberova and Spanish tenor Alfredo Kraus in Verdi's La Traviata

Edita’s mother died the following year in 1984. After her divorce, Edita’s mother was her rock and main support. Her mother’s death was devastating. However, she persevered and continued her career while raising her daughters. One daughter became a professional dancer. Unfortunately, she suffered a career-ending injury at the Zurich Opera House in 2001. The incident led Edita Gruberova to cancel all performances at the opera house.

Edita Gives Her Final Opera Performance

Edita Gruberova in Roberto Deveraux

Edita Gruberova gave her final performance on March 27, 2019. She played the role of Elisabeth I in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. She played the role of Elizabeth I as she prepares to leave the throne. The standing ovations after her performance lasted for 58 minutes.

[Photo] Mrs. Gruberova as Queen Elisabeth in Donizetti's Roberto Deveraux

Sadly, Edita passed away on October 18, 2021. She was 74 years old. A representative from Hilbert Artists Management released a statement announcing her death due to an accidental head injury.

Understanding the Legacy of Edita Gruberova

Edita’s death came the same year that she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA). The ICMA announced she was the winner of the award in January 2021.

Edita Gruberova as herself 2

Edita Gruberova leaves behind two daughters and a career that spanned over half a century. She was known for her vocal accuracy and range. The clarity and flexibility of her voice allowed her to excel on stage.

[Photo] Mrs. Gruberova during the peak of her international career

Edita also had one of the most engaging stage personalities. She brought her characters to life in a way that few others could.

Along with her stage career, Edita is remembered through her recordings and filmed performances. Over a dozen of her opera appearances have been filmed and released on DVD. Anyone interested in exploring the work of Edita Gruberova can view her performances on film or listen to her unique soprano voice on record.

SEE ALSO:

- Edita Gruberova (Various Autographs)

- Edita Gruberova Signed Magazine 1999

- Edita Gruberova Signed Recital Program Munich 1998

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