romanian Cebotari Maria (cântăreaţă de operă)
english Cebotari Maria (Moldavian-Austrian soprano)

Cebotari Maria - Moldavian-Austrian soprano
Cebotari Maria - Moldavian-Austrian soprano, 1910 - 1949

Biographical notes:

She was born Maria Cebutaru in Chisineu (then Russia-Bessarabia) where she grew up speaking Romanian and Russian. She discovered a singing voice at the age of four, singing in churches. One day, a troupe of Russian emigré actors from Moscow arrived and performed in her hometown. As it happened, they needed a young actress who could also sing in Russian, and as she was already known for her beautiful voice and because of her charming appearance, she was invited by the actor and manager Count Alexander Virubov to perform some Russian songs. Virubov fell in love with her. He planned to go to Paris and she decided to join him. Soon afterwards, the two got married. After a short stay in Paris they moved to Berlin where Virubov hoped to make a film. Maria was heard by Oscar Daniel, a professor at the Berlin Music School, who gave her a three months’ training (!). Fritz Busch at the Dresden Opera heard her and gave her a contract for three years! In turn Bruno Walter engaged her for the Salzburg Festival. What a start for a 21-year-old singer! In the meantime she was fluent in German after a short time. Cebotari made her outstandingly successful debut as Mimì at Dresden, but she also took part in modern operas and created roles in operas by d’Albert, Lothar, Heger and Sutermeister. The most important creation was Aminta in Richard Strauss’ Die Schweigsame Frau. The composer was a great admirer of the young singer. In 1934, barely 24, she was made “Kammersängerin.” From 1935 she appeared regularly at the Berlin State Opera and became one of the most versatile singers. A selection of her repertoire: Butterfly, Daphne, Mimì, Aminta, Antonida, Carmen (!), Salome, Turandot, Maddalena, the Olympia, Antonia and Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Gabriele in Schoeck’s Das Schloss Dürande, Susanna, Zerlina, Sophie, Countess Almaviva, Konstanze, Tatyana, Violetta, Arabella, Eurydike and Donna Anna. She appeared as a guest star at various opera houses, in Zurich, Munich, Rome, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Basle, Berne and Prague. She became very popular in Italy with her appearances at la Scala, at the Teatro di Fenice and at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. In 1936 and 1947 she was invited to Covent Garden (1936 as Zerlina, Sophie and Susanna, 1947 as Countess Almaviva and Donna Anna). The artist enjoyed a tremendous success as Salome. She appeared regularly at the Salzburg Festival where she was particularly successful in Mozart operas. As an important figurehead of Nazi Deutschland, she took part in eight films in which Beniamino Gigli was frequently her partner. In 1938 the couple Virubov separated and she got married to film actor Gustav Diessl (1899 - 1948) with whom she had two children. Her house in Berlin had been destroyed in 1943, so she was glad to be contracted at the State Opera of Vienna. In 1947 she created Lucile in Gottfried von Einem’s Dantons Tod. Gustav Diessl suffered two strokes within a short time and died early in 1948. Cebotari, who had earlier told friends that life without Diessl was something she could not contemplate, had herself little more than a year to live, and in her fortieth year, she was diagnosed with “incurable liver cancer.” Her last appearance was at the Vienna State Opera, as Laura in Millöcker’s operetta Der Bettelstudent. She died in June 1949. Her two little sons were adopted by the renowned pianist Clifford Curzon.


updated: 2006-03-23 08:04:49