Romanian-born soprano and teacher Virginia Zeani was born Virginia Zehan in Solovăstr on 21 October 1925. She studied singing in Bucharest with Lucia Anghel and then Lydia Lipkowska. After World War II she moved to Italy and continued her studies in Milan.
She made her professional debut in Bologna in 1948 as Violetta in La traviata, which became her signature role and which she went on to sing over six hundred times during her career. She began her career singing coloratura roles, but later was successful in singing heavier dramatic roles. Her repertoire was wide, including twentieth century operas, and included nearly seventy roles.
In 1980 she began to work as a voice teacher in the USA, at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, where her students included Ailyn Perez, Elizabeth Futral and Vivica Genaux. Her last operatic performance was in 1982 as Marie in Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites at San Francisco Opera.
Virginia Zeani retired in 2004 but continued to teach privately, and she died in Florida on 20 March 2023, aged ninety-seven.
Classical music news - March 2023 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month
Profile. Two Americans in Paris - Maria Nockin talks to Vivica Genaux and Lawrence Brownlee