The Spanish mezzo-soprano, Teresa Berganza, studied music at the Madrid Conservatory with professors such as Gerardo Gombau or Jesús Guridi, and singing with Lola Rodriguez Aragón (a disciple of the German soprano Elisabeth Schumann). She was awarded first prize for singing in 1954 at the Conservatory, and made her concert debut in Madrid in 1955.
In 1957 Teresa Berganza gave her first recital at the Madrid Ateneo, performed with the great Bulgarian bass Boris Christoff in Milan and took part in a film version of L'Italiana in Alqeri for the RAI. In the same year she participated in the Aix-en-Provence Festival, where her performance as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte brought her internacional acclaim. That same year, she made her La Scala debut. The following year (1958) she made her debut at Glyndebourne in Le Nozze di Figaro, and played Neris in Medea at the Dallas Opera where she shared the stage with the legendary María Callas. In 1959, she first appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, which became one of her signature roles. In 1967, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro.
Teresa Berganza has performed in all the most prestigious theatres and concert halls, with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Ernest Ansermet, Daniel Barenboim, Carlo Maria Giulini, Herbert von Karajan, Kirill Kondrashin, Rafael Kubelík, Herbert von Karajan, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Charles Munch, Riccardo Muti, Plasson, Rudel, Georg Solti or Christoph von Dohnányi. Spanish conductors with whom she has worked include Argenta, Colomer, Garcia Asensio, Garcia Navarro, Jesús López-Cobos and Ros Marbá. She has worked with stage directors such as Ebert, Faggioni, De Filipp, Lavelli, Mansouri, Pizzi, Ponnelle, Rennert, Schenk, Strehler, Wal lmann or Zeffirelli.
Her vast repertoire ranges from the Italian baroque masters to 20th century composer with particular attention to Spanish music. Teresa Berganza is a specialist in Mozart and a pioneer in the recovery of Rossini. Her performances as Cherubino, Dorabella and Sesto have served as an example for future generations, and her interpretations of L'Italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola and Il Barbieri di Siviglia have returned the authentic vocality to those roles. Her 1977 performance in the title role of Carmen in Edinburgh, stands out as a highlight in the history of opera performance. She is admired for her technical virtuosity, musical intelligence and beguiling stage presence.
As a recitalist, Teresa Berganza made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1964. Her concert repertoire includes songs by Latin-American composers, German lieder, Russian songs, and she is an expert in the French mélodie. She has also contributed decisively to the recovery of Spanish zarzuela. From 1957 to 1977 Berganza was married to the composer and pianist Félix Lavilla, with whom she recorded and performed regularly and with whom she has three children, soprano Cecilia Lavilla Berganza among them.
Her recordings include George Frideric Handels Alcina; La Clemenza di Tito, Cosi fan tutte and Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart; La Vida Breve and El Amor Brujo by Falla; Offenbach's La Périchole; Massenet's Don Quijote; il Barbiere di Siviglia, L'Italiana in Algeria and La Cenerentola by Rossini; Georges Bizet's Carmen; Pulcinella by Igor Stravinsky; Ravel's Schéhérazade; Georges Bizet's Stabat Mater, or Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria.
Teresa Berganza has appeared in nine motion pictures. Besides highly distinguished filmings of Il barbiere di Siviglia (1972); the noted Joseph Losey Don Giovanni (as Zerlina; 1979); Werther and Carmen (both 1980), she has also been featured as a legitimate actress in Patiño's complex drama Octavia (2002); Paul McGuigan's popular The Reckoning (2003); Alex van Warmerdam's Grimm (2003); Albert Boadella's ”Buen viaje, excelencia! (2003; playing Franco's granddaughter) and Cuéntame, aka Cuéntame cómo pasó (Spain), originally Por el humo se sabe dónde está el fuego (2006), a TV Episode with title taken from a famous tenor romanza from the zarzuela Doña Francisquita by Amadeo Vives.
Teresa Berganza currently teaches singing at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, continues to perform music of Spanish composers and gives master classes all over the world. Among her students have been María Bayo and Jorge Chaminé.
Teresa Berganza shared the 1991 Prince of Asturias Award for arts and letters with six other Spanish singers. In 1992, she participated in the opening ceremonies of Expo '92 in Seville and the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. In 1994, she became the first woman elected to the Spanish Royal Academy of Arts. In 1995 she was named Académica de Número at the Madrid Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. She is also a Member of the Instituto de España and Commandeur aux Arts et Lettres Française.