Academician of The Russian Academy of Arts. Born in Leningrad.
Outstanding Soviet and Russian Opera Singer. People’s Artist of the USSR, Lenin Prize Laureate, RSFSR State Prize Laureate, Casta Diva Prize Laureate, Hero of Socialist Labor. All-Soviet Glinka Vocal Competition First Prize Winner, Francisco Vinas International Singing Contest in Barcelona Laureate, International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow Laureate.
Companion of two Orders of the Red Banner of Labor, Orders of Lenin, Order of Merit for the Fatherland (2nd and 3rd class), Order of the Saint Prince Daniel of Moscow (1st class), foreign country orders and medals.
She started singing when she was five years old. She did her homework listening to melodies and spent hours near the radio. «Neighbors called me «a singer». They always complained and said that I listen to the gramophone all day long,» — Elena Obraztsova says. Music was an essential part in the life of her family. Her father was an engineer but played violin and had a solid baritone voice. One day he returned from his business trip to Italy and brought several records of Gigli, Caruso and Galli-Curci. His little daughter was very impressed and these great Italian singers won her heart.
Heretofore Elena Obraztsova tried to join her school choir and was rejected because she could barely learn the lyrics. «I cried bitter tears and was finally accepted on parole, — the singer recalled. — Learning words was the most terrible thing. After finishing school I said to my parents that I would never choose a profession that required learning words. Just fancy, I finally had to learn arias during all my life!»
She entered the N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov Leningrad State Conservatory and studied in the Professor Antonina Grigorieva’s class. A delicate and skillful pedagogue that could gradually discover her voice abilities became an example of the best teacher ever. «She always sent me away telling: Lenochka, you should know that the voice can’t be restored. Go and have some rest, — Elena Obraztsova said. — She didn’t let me overwork myself. And I will always be obliged to her. And those who hadn’t a good teacher overstrained their vocal cords and lost their voice forever.»
Thanks to Antonina Grigorieva’s advertence many listeners all over the world can still enjoy the voice of the great diva. The audience warmly welcomed her every role: Marfa from Khovonshchina and Princess Marya from War and Peace in La Scala, Maruna Mnishek from Boris Godunov during the Bolshoi Theatre USA tour, Countess from The Queen of Spades.
Listeners loved Elena’s beautiful voice. But she also amazed them with her expressive gestures and emotional acting. Remember her character Santuzza in a Franco Zeffirelli film Rustic Chivalry. Her partners were Placido Domingo, Renato Bruson and Fedora Barbieri. Later Franco Zeffirelli called Elena Obraztsova the «shock of his life».
«I prayed the Lord to give me a chance to heal people, — Elena Obraztsova tells about some other abilities of her voice. — I don’t know why, but I always wanted to do that. And one day I saw that God had given me the healing voice. It was a miracle! I am a very energetic person and people simply forget about their sicknesses after my concerts. Some people often listen to my records and recharge themselves. Mothers brought their children with congenital disease to my concerts and the children were healed completely! I’m so happy with it.»
This love of life came to her after the Siege of Leningrad that she witnessed in her childhood. She never envies, rivals or becomes jealous. That let her win the heart of Maria Callas and Montserrat Caballe. Mischievous Obraztsova and Caballe often cracked jokes at each other. Once Ms. Obraztsova went backstage during one of Caballe’s spectacles, fell on her knees and asked Montserrat to take her furry necklet as a gift for such a beautiful singing. «Oh no, Elena, this necklet can only serve as a hat,» — the Spanish diva smiled. On the next day it was Caballe who was kneeling. «I said that we had to find a mechanical jack now, — Elena recalls. — We laughed a lot.»
She is still cheerful and enthusiastic. Hermerits are great but she can’t let herself be lazy. Giving master classes at Elena Obraztsova Culture Center, teaching students in Japan and judging participants of the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and St. Petersburg she is always happy and satisfied. «I never get upset. I still try to be thankful if something bad happens. It could have been even worse.» And this is her power even if she sometimes wants to be an ordinary woman.