Nelly Miricioiu



by Cristina Fieraru
April 14, 2022
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Nelly Miricioiu, in one word – uniqueness.

«I cannot just exist, as life for me is an active thing, not simply living without challenges. I am an insatiable “doer” in music and in life, and only death will end my passion.» On the occasion of our 2nd anniversary we decided to dedicate this Legends article to one of Romania’s most renowned soprano, hailed by the Italian audiences as La Unica for her special dramatic gifts and remarkable musical versatility, beloved and embraced by some of the most important opera houses in the world and their public, the one and only Nelly Miricioiu. The extraordinary charming diva Nelly Miricioiu devoted her life to music, to beauty and truth in both her professional and personal life, but also to the future of the opera – modelling and guiding with passion towards greatness the young opera singers, being at the moment definitely one of most desired and respected voice teachers all over the world. Besides her busy private teaching schedule, she is a mentor for the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House – Covent Garden, and a regular visiting professor with the London Masterclasses, The Mediterranean Opera Studio & Festival, and Festival y Academia de Musica en Tequila.

«I lived for music because it connected me to Mother Nature and the love of trying to make people happy.»
Our dear Ms. Miricioiu just celebrated her 70th birthday & also her 50th years anniversary of a fulminant career on March 31th, on stage, through a gala concert intitulated «Nelly Miricioiu 70» at the Bucharest National Opera House, one of the very first stages she performed on as an young opera singer. The gala, conducted by maestro Giuliano Carella, had as a special guest one great opera star, the tenor Gregory Kunde, followed by the artistry & huge talent of some of the most beloved Bucharest National Opera House’s opera singers, the soprano Marta Sandu, the tenor Daniel Magdal and the bass Leonard Bernard, alongside the Choir and Orchestra of the Bucharest National Opera House. At the gala, Ms. Miricioiu was surprised with the Prize in Excellence from the Romanian Union of Critics, Redactors and Music Creators, an award handed by the musicologist Luminița Arvunescu. Nelly Miricioiu is well known for her bel canto repertory that embraces the most powerful Italian dramatic leading heroine roles and her affinity & dedication in rediscovering the unsung, but very exciting opera repertoire, having an association with Opera Rara, organization dedicated to giving performances of long-forgotten, lesser operas of the bel canto period. Her repertoire extends from Mozart and bel canto to Verdi, Puccini and verismo, to modern Italian opera – such as Respighi and Zandonai, but also French and Russian composers. Born in Adjud, the same hometown of the Romanian opera star Angela Gheorghiu, she started singing at 5 years old and was hailed as a child prodigy, following the piano studies at 9 years old. At only 14 years old she won her first singing contest, «Young Talents, Great hopes». She studied at the «George Enescu» Music Conservatoire in Iași, Romania, under the guidance of Tiberiu Popovici. As a student of the «George Enescu» Music Conservatoire, she sang in Pergolesi’s La serva padrona at only 18 years old. After that, she made her operatic debut as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Romanian Opera House in Iași & was cast in leading roles in theaters throughout Romania. By the age of 20 she was the youngest contestant in the «Francisco Vinas» Competition in Barcelona, where she is now in fact one of the jury’s members, and three years later, in 1975, she won the first prize at the very first «Maria Callas» Grand Prix in Athens. Also, that year she became a member of the Brașov Opera’s ensemble until 1978, where she debuted in roles such as Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen and Rosalinde in Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, learning and perfecting her craft, so that in 1981 she left Romania deciding to settle permanently in England because of the brutal Marxist regime of that time in Romania. «The main experience was the pain from being a sensitive child and having my dreams and individuality suppressed by the cruel regime who at that time controlled the lives of everyone in Romania. To change this I needed to rework and find again the emotions and belief within myself in order to experience the freedom to explore what was possible in my greatest passion in life – music.»

So she started her international career debuting in Puccini’s Tosca at the Scottish Opera in Glasgow, where she remained until 1983. It was at that point that her voice gained the maturity that allowed her to move into dramatic territory to approach roles such as Violetta Vallery in Verdi’s La Traviata & Puccini’s Tosca and Manon Lescaut. Although she was regularly singing at the Scottish Opera, that wasn’t the trigger for her expansive successful career, but what followed in 1982 with her marvelous debut at the Covent Garden as Nedda in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci opposite the great Canadian tenor Jon Vickers and the 1983 triumphant La Scala debut as Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, offered her the recognition she truly deserved and propelled her on the stages of all major opera houses of the world. Due to her artistry she was granted asylum by the British government, and the United Kingdom became her new home for good. Her Metropolitan Opera debut was not long in coming, so in 1989 the American public was finally to be delighted with Nelly Miricioiu’s voice in Puccini’s Mimì from La Bohème, and over the years alongside some of the greatest voices of the operatic stage, including José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Rento Bruson, Roberto Alagna, Franco Bonisooli, José Cura, Neil Shicoff, and Alfred Kraus. In the 90’s she expanded her repertory into the great bel canto roles, a fact that made her become one of the most in demand sopranos in that field. Her unique kaleidoscopic vocal qualities rich in nuances and interpretative depth and artistic sensibility made a lot of critics compare her often to Callas. She is also one of the greatest examples of longevity due to her ideal effortless technique, especially considering that she sang such a broad repertoire without damaging her voice.

«In some ways, it’s not good to continue to sing operas that maybe stretch your possibilities too much, but by the same token I also needed to first push my limits in order to find out what I can do. I also wanted in those early years to find out what my journey was supposed to be, and by allowing myself a little freedom to explore repertories from which I could learn, I always felt this would eventually help me to come closer to revealing my true dramatic possibilities. Still, choice was not a luxury I always had available.»

Although what you’ve already read is not even 1% of what Nelly Miricioiu’s path was like, I would like to end this brief, but lovely journey with a priceless advice from this wonderful Diva & Maestra, for us, the young & future generation of opera singers whose greatest desire is to carry on this great legacy of opera & enrich its heritage.

«Be honest with yourself and with the music. Listen, learn, practice, test for yourself. The single most important piece of advice for anyone with a passion to sing and a natural voice is never to believe that there is only one possible journey for the voice; or to accept that any magic formula can replace the dedication needed to build and sustain a singing career.»

Thank you for showing us through your artistry what honesty towards the score means & what a great outstanding performer should look like; it is not just about the voice and technique, but the humility and humanity!


Sir Colin Davis
Colin Rex Davis was born on September 25th, 1927, in Weybridge, Surrey, England, and was known for his exceptional interpretations of a wide range of classical and contemporary repertoire. His early exposure to music was through the clarinet, which he started playing at a young age. His interest in conducting developed during his time at...
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Alice Lechner
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We continue our Theaters around the World column, and in this issue, we arrive in Sicily, more precisely in Palermo. It is known that Teatro Massimo di Palermo was, for a long time, the third largest opera house in Europe, after Palais Garnier and Wiener Staatsoper. The construction of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily,...
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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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