Ileana Cotrubaş (born June 9, 1939) is a Romanian opera soprano whose career spanned from the 1960s to the 1980s. She was much admired for her acting skills and facility for singing opera in many different languages.
Cotrubaş was born in Galaţi. She grew up in a musical family; her father, Vasile, was a tenor in an amateur chorus. Cotrubaş' musical career began at the age of nine when she became a member of a children's radio chorus. By the age of eleven, she was one of its leading soloists.
In 1952 she moved to Bucharest to study at the Şcoala Specială de Muzică school for the musically gifted. Cotrubaş made her stage debut with the Bucharest Opera as Yniold in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande in 1964. She subsequently expanded her repertory to include roles such as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Blondchen in The Abduction from the Seraglio and began appearing in productions throughout Europe.
In 1965, Cotrubaş won an important competition in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands where she won first prize in opera, lieder, and oratorio. The following year, she won a radio-television competition in Munich. Those awards, together with her great success in the role of Pamina at Brussels, led to appearances in the Vienna State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Berlin State Opera and Salzburg Festival, and to a contract with the Frankfurt Opera.
In 1969, She also made her British debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Mélisande, and sang two succeeding seasons there in the title role of Cavalli's Calisto. She made her début at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1971 as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.
Cotrubaş signed a three-year contract with the Vienna State Opera in 1970. During her time there, she learned the roles of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Violetta in La traviata, Mimi in La bohème, and Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier.
In 1973, she made her American operatic debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Mimi.
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