Irina Arkhipova (AP Photo)
MOSCOW (AP) - Irina Arkhipova, a Soviet-era diva who sang at the Bolshoi theater for decades, has died. She was 85.
The director of the Arkhipova Foundation, Nadezhda Khachaturova, said the singer died of cardiac arrest Thursday at Moscow's Botkin hospital.
Arkhipova, a mezzo-soprano and later contralto, sang leading roles for the Bolshoi for decades after joining it in 1956. She reached the peak of her career in the 1960s and 1970s, making guest appearances throughout Europe and the United States.
Her most celebrated roles included Carmen in Bizet's Carmen, Amneris in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, Marina and Marfa in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina and Helene in Prokofiev's War and Peace.
Her full, rich voice has been admired for great power and intensity, and she has been universally praised for technically perfect and highly emotional performance.
"She was a great singer and a great actress, one of those who can create a n image with her voice," Bolshoi soloist Zurab Sotkilava said, according to RIA Novosti news agency. "It was easy and incredibly pleasant to sing with her. She was a great singer who raised the Russian opera art to the highest world standards."
President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin both sent condolences to Arkhipova's family.
Khachaturova said that Arkhipova will be buried Saturday at Novodevichy cemetery, Moscow's most prestigious.
Arkhipova is survived by her husband, a grandson and a great granddaughter.
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