O Viata pentru Arta (A Life for Art) by Angela Gheorghiu and Jon Tolanski is the autobiography of Angela Gheorghiu, as dictated to Tolanski. He wrote it in English but I read the Romanian translation. I wanted to hear the diva’s own words in her native Romanian.
Angela Gheorghiu, many people say, is the best operatic soprano in the world. She has been compared to Maria Callas and has been dubbed “the last diva.” The last because the younger sopranos do not behave like divas. And diva because, well, she misses rehearsals and performances for reasons like “I don’t like this wig.”
In this book, however, Angela explains the larger contexts of her seemingly erratic behavior. Just like in everything else, there are two sides to the story.
Born in socialist Romania, Angela discovered early on she had a powerful voice – even in preschool. Her teachers guided her toward opera and she pretty much achieved perfect technique by age 18. Even though she studied for six more years after that, at the Conservatory of Music in Bucharest, Angela did not change anything anymore in her voice or technique.
When the Berlin Wall fell, Angela found the freedom to audition at Covent Garden. In 1994, she became an overnight opera star after debuting in La Traviata. Georg Solti conducted and they say she drew tears out of the old maestro with her voice.
This book presents the story of her life from birth until now. Angela is still active, still singing in front of presidents and royalty, still performing on the biggest opera stages of the world. What’s better, is that she finally found love, after two failed marriages. If you are an opera fan, this book would inform and entertain you, as Angela mentions a lot of her colleagues throughout.