Russian Soprano Galina Vishnevskaya Diest At 86

Posted December 11th, 2012 at 10:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Russian opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya, the widow of legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, died Tuesday aged 86.

State media report that she has suffered from heart trouble in recent years.

The famed soprano was celebrated for her dramatic interpretations of classic and modern works and sang in most major opera houses across the world.

For many years, Vishnevskaya enjoyed a star status in the Soviet Russia where she received the Order of Lenin and the People's Artist prizes. But she and her husband Rostropovich were forced into exile after offering support to writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was critical of the communist government.

The musician couple was forced into exile in 1974, eventually settling in the United States where she continued to sing and direct opera.

The Soviet authorities later stripped them of their citizenship, which they regained in 1990 during Mikhail Gorbachev's era of perestroika.

The couple was lauded in the post-Soviet Russia and in 1991 established the Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., to improve the health and future of children in the former Soviet Union.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week issued a decree granting Vishnevskaya the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland,” 1st Class, for her contributions to Russian music and culture.

He expressed his condolences Tuesday.