Ghena Dimitrova

Ghena Dimitrova

Bulgarian opera singer-soprano
Date of Birth: 06.05.1941
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Gena Dimitrova
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Breakthrough
  4. International Success
  5. Significant Roles
  6. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Gena Dimitrova

Early Life and Education

Gena Dimitrova was born on May 6, 1941 in the Bulgarian village of Beglezh, located 25 km from Pleven. She began singing in the school choir, and thanks to her powerful voice, Gena received an offer to study in Sofia at the National Academy of Music. Her talent was first recognized by her school music teacher, Ivan Genkov, who predicted a great operatic future for the young village girl. From 1959 to 1964, she studied under Cristo Brambarov. Although initially her vocal range was defined as mezzo-soprano, her teachers recognized her as a dramatic soprano in her second year of training. After completing her education at the Sofia Conservatory, Dimitrova began teaching vocal technique herself.

Ghena Dimitrova


Gena Dimitrova's breakthrough came in 1967 when she performed the role of Abigaille in Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Nabucco" at the Bulgarian National Opera. She was given the role after several other sopranos left the production, and she had only one week to prepare. Her early recordings do not yet showcase her distinctive vocal range, and in many early productions of "Nabucco," the singer skipped the final high note in the cabaletta "Salgo già," which she effortlessly hit later in her career.

Ghena Dimitrova

International Success

In 1970, Dimitrova won the Sofia International Singing Competition, which included a scholarship for two years of training at the Scuola di Perfezionamento at La Scala in Milan. This was not her first course at La Scala – in 1966, Dimitrova had already interned at the Milanese theater. She studied alongside Renato Pastorino, Renata Carosio, and Gina Cigna. In 1972, she performed as Leonora in Verdi's "La forza del destino" in France. That same year, she won the international competition in Treviso, performing the role of Amelia in "Un ballo in maschera," and this victory opened many doors for her. Shortly after, she was invited to the Teatro Regio di Parma, where she sang in "La forza del destino" with José Carreras, and a year later, Gena reprised this role on the stage of La Scala with Plácido Domingo. This marked the beginning of a long and fruitful international career. Dimitrova frequently performed abroad, including in South America, Germany, Austria, Italy, the USSR, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.

Ghena Dimitrova

Significant Roles

The role of Turandot, which Dimitrova marked her Italian debut with at the Teatro Comunale di Treviso in 1975, became iconic for the singer, as did the role of Tosca. In 1983, Dimitrova sang Turandot at her debut at La Scala in Franco Zeffirelli's production at the Arena di Verona, and this performance was recorded on video. In 1988, she once again performed Turandot, this time making her debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. It was a real triumph, and after her performance, a downpour of roses and confetti showered the singer. The year 1980 was the peak of her career. She sang La Gioconda in Verona alongside Luciano Pavarotti, and their performance caused a sensation.

Later Years and Legacy

In 1981, Dimitrova made her debut in the United States, with the role of Elvira in "Ernani," and in 1983, she first performed at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. In 1985, at La Scala, still alongside Luciano Pavarotti, she sang Amneris in "Aida," showcasing her exceptional dramatic talent.

After retiring from the stage in 2001, Dimitrova actively engaged in teaching aspiring opera artists. One of her best students was soprano Elena Baramova. Gena Dimitrova passed away from cancer on June 11, 2005 in Milan. Following her death, the Bulgarian government promised to establish a fund in her honor to support young singers.