Moscow, Dec 12 (IANS/EFE) Prominent Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, widow of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, died Tuesday in Moscow. She was 86.
"We confirm the sad news, we know nothing about the cause of her death," a spokesperson for the Vishnevskaya Opera Center told EFE.
The diva lived through the siege of Leningrad that took more than 1.2 million lives during World War II.
She debuted as a singer of operettas in 1944 and later won a singing contest organized by the Bolshoi Theater.
In 1952 she joined the company of that theater, where she became a diva performing the character of Tatiana Larina in "Eugene Onegin" and Dona Anna in "El Convidado de Piedra" among some 30 roles.
In 1961, Vishnevskaya went to New York for a role in "Aida" at the Metropolitan Opera House, and later did the same at the Royal Opera House in London.
In 1974, Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich were forced to leave then USSR under pressure from the authorities, after which they were stripped of all the decorations and titles of their homeland.
But following perestroika, the couple returned to Russia where all their honours were returned to them.