The Bulgarian soprano Raina Kabaivanska
was born on 15 December 1934 in Bourgas. After she had graduated from
the Bulgarian State Conservatory, she was sent to postgraduate in Italy
with Zita Fumagaly. In 1959, at the age of 24, Kabaivanska made her professional
debut as Jorjeta in Puccini's "Il Tabarro" in the theatre of
Vercelli. The same year she took the first prize at the competition in
Redjo Emilia (Pavarotti took the second prize!!!) and the Silver Viotti
(gold for Mario del Monaco and Giulietta Simionato).
Only two years later she made her debut in the
Milan La Scala as Agnese in Bellini's "Beatrice di Tenda" with
Joan Sutherland as Beatrice. For twenty years she was a great star on
the famous stage.
In 1962 she made her Covent Garden debut as Desdemona
in the premiere of Verdi's "Otello" with M. del Monaco and Tito
Gobbi (in the presence of the British queen). The same year she made her
Metropolitan debut as Nedda; after that she appeared for first time on
the stages of the Vienna State Opera,
Teatro Collon, Bolshoi Theatre, Arena di Verona, Paris Grand Opera, Carnegie
Hall, Salzburg Festival and on the famous stages all around the world.
Her repertoire included also Mimi, Liu, Suor Angelica,
Elizabeth, Alice, Tais, Margueuritte, Lisa, Tatyana. In 1965 she took
the Bellini Prize in the company of Maria Callas and Vittorio Gui. The
same year the first roses in San Remo were called "Raina" -
a sign of the enormous glory of the artist.
In 1967 on the stage of Metropolitan she made
her debut as Butterfly. This part takes a major place in Kabaivanska's
career. She is considered to be one of the best Cio-Cio-San of all times.
The singer enriched her repertoire with new roles
like Manon Lescaut, Leonora, Elvira, Amelia, Adriana Lecouvreur, Franceska
da Rimini, Madalena, La Wally. In 1970 she took the prize for best opera
couple Kabaivanska-Domingo and the Golden Viotti.
In 1973 Raina participated in the performance
of "Vespri Siciliani" directed by M. Callas.
The next year she made her debut as Violetta in
Bologna and achieved an enormous success as Tosca in La Scala. The next
season she was chosen to be Tosca in the film with P. Domingo, directed
by Gianfranco de Bosio. For thirty years (debut in 1971) Raina Kabaivanska
performed this opera more than 400 times. She is the one who had singing
in the costumes of Sarah Bernhardt.