Victoria Biography s

Childhood

Victoria de los Ángeles was born in Barcelona on 1 November 1923. Her father, Bernardo López, came from Andalusia, and worked as a janitor at the University of Barcelona, where he lived with his family: his wife, Victoria García, and their three children, Carmen, Victoria de los Ángeles and José.

The empty classrooms at the university and the auditorium, where she could play the piano, formed the backdrop for the daily life of the singer’s childhood and adolescence. As a teenager, Victoria de los Ángeles taught herself to take on the air of an artist.

After the Spanish Civil War, she enrolled at the Conservatori del Liceu, where she heard Mercè Plantada, the singer and professor, sing for the first time, and where she studied music with mezzosoprano Dolors Frau and guitarist Gracià Tarragó.

Early
career

On 20 December 1940, she took part in the Ràdio Barcelona competition Concursos vivientes, and she won, with the songs 'Mi chiamano Mimì' from La Bohème and 'Un bel dì vedremo' from Madama Butterfly, both by Giacomo Puccini and both from roles which would follow her throughout her life. In fact, the prize was to perform in La Bohème at Barcelona’s Teatre Victòria. This was the start of Victoria de los Ángeles’ performing career, and it was also around this time that she met the instrumental ensemble Ars Musicae, led by Josep Maria Lamaña, which informed the trajectory of her musical career, as, in a pioneering move, she focused her attention on old music, specifically music from the canon of the 12th to 17th centuries. Curiously, with the Ars Musicae music group, Victoria de los Ángeles performed only as a flautist, never as a vocal soloist. Finally, on 19 May 1944, she made her first solo appearance at the Palau de la Música Catalana in a concert split into two halves. In the first half, she was accompanied by the Quartet Ibèric, and in the second half, by Pere Vallribera. Not long after that, on 13 January 1945, she made her official debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, as Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro.

international acclaim

In 1947, once she had become well-known in her own country, she won first prize at the prestigious Geneva Competition, which marked her launch onto the international stage. In 1949, she made her debut at La Scala, in Milan, first with a recital, and then, a year later, in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. In 1948, she made her first appearance in London, as part of a radio broadcast of Manuel de Falla’s La vida breve for the BBC. This marked the beginning of her pivotal partnership with Gerald Moore, which lasted until the 1970s.
Also in 1949, she made her debut at the Opéra de Paris with her impressive interpretation of Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust. In 1951, the same opera took her to the Metropolitan Opera House, in New York, where she continued performing consistently until 1961, making a name for herself as one of the undisputed stars of opera, among the likes of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. It was when she was with this company that she became so well-known all over the USA, and in New York she put on various now legendary performances, starring in Otello with Mario del Monaco, in Manon with Giuseppe di Stefano, in Martha alongside Richard Tucker, and many more besides. In 1952, she made her debut at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, in Manon and Madama Butterfly. She toured Japan, Australia, South Africa, Russia and throughout Europe, making her debut in Vienna in 1957.
Even today, Victoria de los Ángeles remains the only Spanish soprano to have sung in Bayreuth, where Wieland Wagner selected her to play the role of Elisabeth in Tannhäuser in the 1961 and 1962 festivals. Throughout her formidable career, she reached such heights of success that she took on leading roles in over thirty-five operas; La Traviata, Carmen, Pelléas et Mélisande, Fidelio, Faust, Pagliacci, Werther, Orfeo, Cavalleria rusticana, La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Otello, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Ariadne auf Naxos, Der Freischütz and Don Giovanni are just a few that particularly stand out. Many of these performances have become immortalized in her numerous recordings, which are now irrefutably seen as a gold standard. Another notable performance of Victoria de los Ángeles in 1961 was in the posthumous concert premiere of L’Atlàntida by Manuel de Falla at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, directed by Eduard Toldrà.
In London in 1967, she took part in the farewell concert to honour the career of Gerald Moore, alongside Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. There were many concerts and recitals throughout her career, even in this period, during which she took on the major task of raising awareness of traditional Spanish and Catalan music, as well as the music of composers such as Pau Casals, Joaquín Rodrigo, Frederic Mompou, Xavier Montsalvatge, Óscar Esplà, Héitor Villa-Lobos and Eduard Toldrà.

Later adulthood

After having her two sons, Juan Enrique and Alejandro, Victoria de los Ángeles gradually began to focus her career on singing recitals, a type of performing that she had kept up throughout her life, ever since she sang Schubert in Catalan for President Macià before the Civil War (1936 –1939). And finally, she sang her very last opera in 1980: Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid. In all her performances all over the world, many of which were considered to be particularly memorable, she had been accompanied by renowned pianists, like Geoffrey Parsons, Alicia de Larrocha, Gonzalo Soriano, Miguel Zanetti, Manuel García Morante and Albert Guinovart.
In 1987, Victoria de los Ángeles received an honorary doctorate from the University of Barcelona, in the very auditorium where she spent her childhood, an event of very special significance in the life of the opera singer. Amongst her final appearances, those that stand out are: the concert to celebrate her debut at the Palau de la Música Catalana in 1989; the historic recital in the Gran Teatre del Liceu accompanied by Manuel García Morante in 1992; and her role in the Barcelona Olympic Games closing ceremony in the same year.
Her career continued up until 28 December 1997, when she performed in her last public concert, accompanied by Albert Guinovart, in the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya in Barcelona. Victoria de los Ángeles died in Barcelona on 15 January 2005.