The Lithuanian-born singer is now recognised as one of the leading dramatic sopranos in the Italian and German fach with roles such as Aida, Amelia, Elisabetta, Gioconda, Leonora, Tosca, Norma, Sieglinde or Isolde.
First acknowledged as a mezzo-soprano, Violeta Urmana became world famous for her interpretation of roles such as Kundry in Wagner's Parsifal and Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo. Besides many other parts, she sang these two roles at nearly all important opera houses and with conductors like Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Bertrand de Billy, Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Chailly, James Conlon, James Levine, Jesús López Cobos, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, Donald Runnicles, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Franz Welser-Möst and Christian Thielemann.
Following her debut in the part of Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre at the 2001 Bayreuth Festival, her real soprano debut took place in December 2002 in the title role of Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide conducted by Riccardo Muti to open the new season at Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
After that, she made several highly successful debuts as a soprano: Maddalena in Giordano's Andrea Chénier in Vienna, Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth in Seville, Isolde in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in Rome, the title role of Ponchielli's La Gioconda and Leonora in Verdi's La forza del destino in London and, in 2005, the title roles of Puccini's Tosca in Florence, of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos at the New York Metropolitan Opera and of Catalani's La Wally at the Vienna Konzerthaus. In 2006 she scored a huge success in her debuts as Bellini's Norma in Dresden, as Elisabetta in Verdi's Don Carlo in Turin, as Aida to open the 2006 season at La Scala in Milan and lately as Amelia in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera in Florence. The part of Isolde has taken Violeta Urmana into the highly dramatic territory of Wagner opera, and having sung it repeatedly in concert performances, she made her fully-staged debut in July 2008 in Japan, with the Opéra Bastille under the direction of Semyon Bychkov. In December she sang her debut in the title role of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride in Valencia. In 2010 she made her highly acclaimed debut in the part of ‘Odabella’ in Verdi’s Attila conducted by Riccardo Muti at the Met.
Among her plans are Tosca in Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam and Vienna, La Gioconda in Karlsruhe and Paris, Mahler‘s Eight symphony in Turin, Rimini and Munich, Verdi‘s Requiem in Vienna, Rückert-Lieder in Moscow, St. Petersburg and at the Usedom Festival, where she will also present a song recital, La Forza del Destino in Paris, Vienna and Barcelona, Aida in New York, Cavalleria rusticana in Paris, Gurre-Lieder in Vienna, Macbeth in Madrid, Siegfried (in concert) in Berlin, Tristan und Isolde in Berlin, Vienna and Paris, Parsifal and Don Carlo in Berlin.
As a concert and recital singer Violeta Urmana performs a wide repertoire from Johann Sebastian Bach to Alban Berg in all the important music centres in Europe, the USA and Japan. Her lieder recitals are musical events acclaimed by press and public alike.
Violeta Urmana has recorded the title role of La Gioconda conducted by Marcello Viotti, excepts from Tristan und Isolde and from Götterdämmerung conducted by Antonio Pappano, Azucena in Verdi's Il Trovatore conducted by Riccardo Muti, Cuniza in Verdi's Oberto conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, Beethoven's conducted by Claudio Abbado, Berlioz's La mort de Cléopâtre conducted by Bertrand de Billy, Zemlinsky's Maeterlinck-Lieder and Stravinsky's Le Rossignol conducted by James Conlon, Mahler's Second Symphony conducted by Kazushi Ono and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Rückert-Lieder conducted by Pierre Boulez. Verdi's Requiem with Violeta Urmana in the soprano role, with Semyon Bychkov conducting the WDR Symphony Orchestra, was released in July 2008. In September 2009 has been issued a Puccini album together with Placido Domingo and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra by the Deutsche Grammophon, titled "Puccini Rediscovered". In September 2010 there has been released a Parsifal recording with her as Kundry on the Mariinsky label.
She can be heard on numerous DVDs. The most recent of these are Aida directed by Franco Zeffirelli under the musical direction of Ricardo Chailly for the opening of the 2006/7 season at La Scala in Milan, and Cavalleria rusticana in a 2007 production by the Teatro Real in Madrid directed by Giancarlo del Monaco and conducted by Jésus López-Cobos. Her Aida from La Scala in Milan and La forza del destino from the 2007 Maggio Musicale in Florence and her latest production Un ballo in maschera at the Téatro Real Madrid.
Violeta Urmana plays the role of Kundry in Tony Palmer's film The Search for the Holy Grail.
In 2002, in London, she received the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award for singers and in 2009 the Austrian "Kammersängerin" award in Vienna.
© Christine Schneider
Jesús Lopez Cobos, Giancarlo del Monaco – Violeta Urmana (Santuzza), María Bayo (Nedda) – Teatro Real Madrid
2004 Lucerne Festival Opening Concert
Europakonzert 2000, Berlin
Europakonzert 2009, Napoli
After Giancarlo del Monaco's staging for the Teatro Real Madrid
Investigations around Willy Decker's production. With Riccardo Chailly, Rolando Villazón and Violeta Urmana
With Plácido Domingo, Violeta Urmana, Anna Netrebko...