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Irina Arkhipova (1925 - 2010)

Arkhipova’s mother was a chorister at the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow and her father was an engineer. Initially she studied architecture, graduating from the Moscow Institute of Architecture in 1948; but she also studied singing, first with Nadezhda Malisheva; and after further study with Leonid Savransky she graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1953. In the following year she joined the opera company of Sverdlosk (Ekaterinburg), making her début as Lyubasha in The Tsar’s Bride (Rimsky-Korsakov) and staying at Sverdlosk until 1956. Having won the Warsaw International Singing Competition in 1955, Arkhipova joined the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow in 1956, making a very successful début as Carmen (Bizet), and swiftly established herself as one of the finest singers not only in this distinguished company but in the whole of Russia. Her principal rôles included, in addition to Carmen and Lyubasha, Lyubov/Mazeppa, Marina/Boris Godunov, Marfa/Khovanshchina, Pauline/Pique-Dame (The Queen of Spades), Amneris/Aida, Eboli/Don Carlos, Charlotte/Werther and Helena/War and Peace. She also sang in the first performances at the Bolshoi of several contemporary Russian operas, including Mother (Khrennikov, 1957), Not For Love Alone (Shchedrin, 1959), The Story of a Real Man (Prokofiev, 1960) and An Optimistic Tragedy (Kholminov, 1965).




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