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Stunning photos from La Scala archives celebrate Raina Kabaivanska’s return to the theatre

1980 Tosca photo by Lelli e Masotti
1980 Tosca photo by Lelli e Masotti

 


As part of the Great Voices at La Scala series, Raina Kabaivanska will be interviewed Sabino Lenoci and Giancarlo Landini of Italy’s L’Opera magazine in the theatre at 4pm, Saturday 4 November.

 

 

1964 Rienzi photo by Piccagliani
1964 Rienzi photo by Piccagliani

 

After the success of Puccini’s Tabarro in 1959 with Piero Cappuccilli at Vercelli’s Teatro Civico, Kabaivanska started out on her triumphant international career.

 

1964 Mefistofele photo by Piccagliani
1964 Mefistofele photo by Piccagliani

 

Her relationship with Teatro alla Scala began in 1961 when she sang in Gianfrancesco Malipiero’s Torneo notturno at the small theatre housed inside the main building — alas, no more — known as the Piccola Scala. Her debut in the main house was on 10 May 1961 in Beatrice di Tenda conducted by Antonino Votto.

 

1969 Ernani photo by Piccagliani
1969 Ernani photo by Piccagliani

 

Her 1961 debut in Milan’s La Scala paved the way for a brilliant career that has put her on the stage of all major opera theatres and concert halls worldwide – Covent Garden in London, the Paris Opera, Teatro Real in Madrid, the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall in New York, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Staatsoper in Hamburg, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, the Sofia Opera, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Tokyo Opera, the Salzburg Festival and many others.

 

1970 Cavalleria rusticana photo by Piccagliani
1970 Pagliacci photo by Piccagliani

 

 

During 1961 and 1962 came Busoni’s Turandot and Suor Angelica. Then for the 1962/63 season, Kabaivanska sang Alice in Falstaff with Nino Sanzogno, then followed Don Carlo (conducted by Santini with Bruno Prevedi, 1964), Mefistofele (Gavazzeni with Bergonzi, 1964), Rienzi (Scherchen with Di Stefano, 1964), Ernani (Votto with Domingo, 1969), Pagliacci (Verchi with Vickers, 1970), Madama Butterfly (Verchi with Gianni Raimondi, 1972 / Prêtre with Cecchele, 1979), Tosca (Molinari Pradelli with Domingo, 1974 / Ozawa with Pavarotti, 1980), Simon Boccanegra (Abbado with Cappuccilli, 1976).

 

1974 Tosca photo by Piccagliani
1974 Tosca photo by Piccagliani

Kabaivanska has been especially active in Italy where she has performed in all major, as well as less prominent opera theatres – La Scala, but also Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Arena di Verona, the theatres in Turin, Genoa, Parma, Bologna, Modena, and the Rome Opera House. She has partnered a few generations of great tenors on stage – Franco Corelli, Mario del Monaco, Jon Wickers, Carlo Bergonzi, Alfredo Kraus, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Luciano Pavarotti.

1979 Madama Butterfly photo by Piccagliani
1979 Madama Butterfly photo by Piccagliani

 

Although her operatic connection with the theatre finished early in her long 55-year career, she made many memorable concert and recital appearances.

Today, Raina Kabaivanska teaches in Italy and her native Bulgaria.