Russian mezzo Elena Obraztsova was born on 7 July 1939 and lived through the long siege of Leningrad during World War II. She studied at the Taganrog Tchaikovsky musical college, at Don's music school in Rostov and at the Leningrad Conservatory.
Obraztsova sang in a 1963 Bolshoi Theatre Boris Godunov in Moscow. Her first international engagement was a recital at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. Her career included engagements at La Scala, Metropolitan Opera and on film. She was artistic director of the St Petersburg Mikhaylovsky Theatre, had her own cultural centre in the same city for training young soloists, and created a competition bearing her own name.
Elena Obraztsova died in Leipzig on 12 January 2015, aged seventy-five.