Mariana Nicolesco

Mariana Nicolesco (Romanian: [mariˈana nikoˈlesko], last name also Nicolescu pronounced [nikoˈlesku]; born on 28 November 1948) is a Romanian operatic soprano.


She was born in Găujani, Giurgiu County. She studied violin at the Music High School in Brașov and voice at the Music Conservatory in Cluj-Napoca, before winning a scholarship at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome to be taught canto by Jolanda Magnoni; she also worked with Rodolfo Celletti and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.[1] Upon graduation, in 1972, having won the Voci Rossiniane Competition in Milan, American conductor Thomas Schippers invited her to Cincinnati as Mimì in Puccini's La Bohème and later she was invited by Luchino Visconti to appear in Don Carlos at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.[2] She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, in 1978, as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, a role she has reprised over 200 times, later singing Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto (1978) and Nedda in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci (1978-1986).[3] She sang in the worlds major opera houses such as Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where she had her debut in the world première of Luciano Berio's La Vera Storia (1982) and later appeared in: The Stone Guest (Donna Anna) by Dargomyzhsky (1983), Lucio Silla (Cinna) by Mozart (1984), Polish Requiem by Penderecki (1985), L'Orfeo (Euridice) by Luigi Rossi (1985), Un re in ascolto (La Protagonista) by Berio (1986), Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira) by Mozart (1987, 1988, and 1993), Fetonte (Queen Climene) by Jommelli (1988), Alcyone and Alyssa by Ravel (1990) and three Recitals (1988, 1993).[4] Mariana Nicolesco interpreted a wide repertory from baroque, belcanto to verismo and contemporary music and has been described as "an arresting personality with a vibrant voice";[1] highlights of her repertory are the roles of Marzelline in Fidelio by Beethoven, Elettra in Idomeneo, Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito by Mozart, Beatrice di Tenda by Bellini, Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, Queen Elisabeth I in Roberto Devereux, Maria di Rohan by Donizetti, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Desdemona in Otello, Leonora in Il trovatore, Luisa in Luisa Miller by Verdi, Marguérite in Faust by Gounod, Tatyana in Evghenij Oneghin by Tchaikovsky, Liù in Turandot by Puccini, Zarina Marina in Dimitrij by Dvořák.[5] She appeared in productions signed by Giorgio Strehler, Patrice Chéreau, Luca Ronconi, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Franco Zeffirelli, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Jonathan Miller and conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Lorin Maazel, Peter Maag, Georges Prêtre, Giuseppe Patané, Alberto Zedda, Colin Davis, Ghennadij Rozhdestvensky; also in prestigious Concerts Halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Festival Hall in London, Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Vienna, Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Great Conservatory Hall in Moscow and the Salzburg Festival, Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Martina Franca Festival, Casals Festival in Puerto Rico.[6] Invited by Pope John Paul II, she sang Romanian Carols in the First Christmas Concert in the Vatican (1993)[7] and the soprano part in the world première of Krzysztof Penderecki's Symphony No. 7 (Seven Gates of Jerusalem) was composed for her (1997).[8]

She returned to Romania in 1991, after the fall of the Communist regime, singing for the first time on a stage in her native country, in a Concert at the Romanian Atheneum in Bucharest. As some 10,000 tickets were purchased, Nicolesco gave three consecutive performances. She created the Romanian Atheneum International Foundation and donated in 1994 a Steinway grand concert piano.[9] In 1995, Mariana Nicolesco initiated the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition and Festival. In the years between an edition of the Contest and the next, she offers Master Classes to the young artists.[10][11][12][13] She obtained for the Darclée events the High UNESCO Patronage.[14] In 2003, she created the Romanian National Festival and Song Competition and presented for the International George Enescu Year, proclaimed by UNESCO (2005), in world première the composer's complete songs in Japan, at Aichi World Exhibition as well as in Nagoya and Tokyo, in Prague, Paris, Rome and New York City.[15] In 2014 she is a Member of the Jury of China International Vocal Competition with 430 competitors from 41 countries.[16]


An Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy since 1993, Officer of the Order of the Arts and Letters in France (2000),[17] Ph.D.[18] and Doctor Honoris Causa of the Gheorghe Dima Music Academy in Cluj-Napoca (1996),[19] she was awarded the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity (2004)[20] and the Order of the Star of Romania, in the Rank of Grand Cross (2008).[21] She was also named UNESCO Artist for Peace (2005),[22] UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador,[23][24] elected the Most Successful Woman in Romania (2004)[25] and was conferred the Special Award Kulturpreis Europa Medal in Sibiu, European Capital of Culture (2007).[26] Honorary Member of the Mihai Eminescu International Academy (2017). Doctor Honoris Causa of Chisinau Academy of Arts (2018).[27] She was elected, also in 2018, Member of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in Paris.[28] In 2018 she was awarded the Honorary Diploma and Medal The Centenary of the Great Union as well as the Honorary Diploma and Medal 650 years of documentary attestation of the city of Braila[29] She is an Honorary Citizen of Bucharest (1991),[30] Cluj Napoca (1994),[31] Braila (1995),[32] Brasov (1999).[33] She receives in 2020 The Constantin Brâncoveanu Award for her entire career.[34] Nicolesco is married to art critic and art historian Radu Varia.[35]


Year Title Role Cast Conductor
Live /
1976 Verdi: La Traviata Violetta Valéry Nicolesco,
Romero, et al.
Thomas Schippers
The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra
Historical Performances
1981 Meyerbeer: Gli amori di Teolinda (cantata) Nicolesco Wolfgang Gönnenwein
Ludwigsburg Festival Orchestra
Live Pro Arte
1983 Puccini: La Rondine Lisette Te Kanawa,
Nucci, et al.
Lorin Maazel
London Symphony Orchestra
Live CBS Records
1987 Bellini: Beatrice di Tenda Beatrice di Tenda Nicolesco,
La Scola, et al.
Alberto Zedda
Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra
Live Rizzoli Records
Sony 1995, 2009
1987 Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro Marcellina Hynninen
Nicolesco, et al.
Riccardo Muti
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Live EMI
1987 Ravel: Alyssa and Alcyone (cantatas) Nicolesco,
Hubert Soudant
Bamberg Symphony
Live Rizzoli Records
1988 Donizetti: Maria di Rohan Maria Nicolesco,
Franci, et al.
Massimo de Bernart
Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia
Live Nuova Era
reissued 1991
1990 Verdi: Simon Boccanegra Maria Boccanegra (Amelia Grimaldi) Bruson,
Scandiuzzi, et al.
Roberto Paternostro
Tokyo Symphony Orchestra
Live Capriccio
reissued 2005


  1. ^ a b "Oxford Music on line". Archived from the original on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  2. ^ (in Romanian) Magdalena Popa Buluc, "Mariana Nicolesco: 'Trăiesc într-un perpetuu foc de artificii'" ("Mariana Nicolesco: 'I Live in a Continuous Fireworks Display'"), Cotidianul, 25 July 2010; accessed March 17, 2012
  3. ^ New York Metropolitan Opera Archives on line
  4. ^ Teatro alla Scala Archivio on line
  5. ^ (in Romanian) Corina Stoica, “Mariana Nicolesco: Sunt prea spontană, prea directă ca să spun minciuni” (Mariana Nicolesco: I am too spontaneous, too direct, therefore incapable to lie), "Revista Tango", September 15, 2010
  6. ^ (in Romanian) Cezarina Adamescu „O mie de voci într-o singură voce: Mariana Nicolesco omagiu primei doamne a lirice româneşti" (A thousand voices in one: Mariana Nicolesco homage to a First Lady of Opera) [1] „Confluenţe româneşti", October 26, 2011
  7. ^ (in Romanian)„Colinde cu Mariana Nicolesco la Vatican“ (Carols with Mariana Nicolesco at the Vatican), "Evenimentul Zilei", December 24, 2011
  8. ^ Mădălina Grosu, "Mariana Nicolesco, soprana de aur a României" ("Mariana Nicolesco, Romania's Golden Soprano", Adevărul, 27 July 2010; accessed March 17, 2012
  9. ^ (in Romanian) Rodica Nicolae “Mariana Nicolesco: talent și dăruire de excepție pe altarul artei (Mariana Nicolesco: an exceptional talent and devotion on the altar of art), "Cariere", May 20, 2004
  10. ^ (in Romanian) Costin Popa “Festivalul şi Concursul de Canto Darclée – Nicolesco, o sărbătoare!” (Festival and Voice Contest Darclée – Nicolesco, a feast!) "Cultura", August 26, 2010
  11. ^ (in Romanian) „Omul zilei: Mariana Nicolesco” (Woman of the day: Mariana Nicolesco), "Jurnalul Naţional", August 1, 2011
  12. ^ (in Romanian) “Regina Mariana Nicolesco, încoronată” (Queen Mariana Nicolesco crowned, “Evenimentul zilei”, August 21, 2012
  13. ^ (in Romanian)“O coroană pentru trei Regine: Hariclea Darclee, Maria Callas, Mariana Nicolesco” (A crown for three Queens: Hariclea Darclee, Maria Callas, Mariana Nicolesco), “Revista VIP”, August 27, 2012
  14. ^ (in Romanian) „Mariana Nicolesco a obţinut înaltul patronaj al UNESCO pentru evenimentele Darclée din România” (Mariana Nicolesco obtained for the Darclée events in Romania the High UNESCO Patronage) Mediafax, July 9, 2014
  15. ^ (in Romanian) Simona Suciu “Festival marca Mariana Nicolesco, la Braşov” (A Festival label Mariana Nicolesco in Brasov) "Adevărul", October 26, 2011
  16. ^ (in Romanian) „Mariana Nicolesco, întâmpinată ca un star în China” (Mariana Nicolesco, received like a Star in China) Evenimentul Zilei, November 28, 2014
  17. ^ (in Romanian) "Mariana Nicolesco" at the Romanian Academy site; accessed March 16, 2012
  18. ^ (in Romanian) Mariana Nicolesco Doctor [2] Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music Cluj-Napoca
  19. ^ (in Romanian) Mariana Nicolesco Doctor Honoris Causa [3] Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music Cluj-Napoca
  20. ^ Sito web del Quirinale: dettaglio decorato. Archived 2013-11-10 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ (in Romanian) Comunicat de Presă (Press release) [4] Presidency site, December 1, 2008
  22. ^ "Soprano Mariana Nicolesco nominated UNESCO Artist for Peace" at the UNESCO site; 21 November 2005; accessed March 17, 2012
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2013-07-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ (in Romanian) "Mariana Nicolesco, Ambasador Onorofic UNESCO, la Reuniunea de la Paris: Nimic nu-i poate apropia pe oameni mai mult decât cântul" (Romanian soprano Mariana Nicolesco, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador: Nothing can bring people closer than singing) "Cotidianul", July 2, 2013
  25. ^ (in Romanian) "50 de românce cu succes şi bani" (50 successful rich Romanian women) [5] "Jurnalul Naţional", March 31, 2004
  26. ^ "Mariana Nicolesco ausgezeichnet" (Mariana Nicolesco awarded) [6] Kultur Forum Europa site
  27. ^ (in Romanian) "Soprana Mariana Nicolesco și istoricul de artă Radu Varia primesc titlul de Doctor Honoris Causa al Academiei de Arte din Chișinău" (Soprano Mariana Nicolesco and art historien Radu Varia received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of Chisinau's Academy of Arts) [7] Qmagazine, June 4, 2018
  28. ^ ”Cultura românească în lume. Mariana Nicolesco și Radu Varia, Membri ai Academiei Europene de Științe, Arte și Litere din Paris” (The Romanian culture in the world. Mariana Nicolesco and Radu Varia Members of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in Paris), "Evenimentul zilei", Iulian Vlădescu, 26 noiembrie 2018
  29. ^ [
  30. ^ ″Mariana Nicolesco Cetatean de Onoare Bucuresti″ Archived 2013-04-03 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ ″Mariana Nicolesco Cetatean de Onoare Cluj Napoca″
  32. ^ ″Mariana Nicolesco Cetatean de Onoare Braila″
  33. ^ ″Mariana Nicolesco Cetatean de Onoare Brasov″
  34. ^ [8], Fundația Alexandrion, Gala Premiilor Constantin Brâncoveanu 2020
  35. ^ (in Romanian) Loredana Oprea, "Un ieşean, medaliat de Academia Regală din Scoţia", Ziarul de Iaşi, 5 December 2011; accessed March 14, 2012

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