The Russian mezzo soprano, Valentina Levko (Валентина Левко), was educated at the Gnesin Academy of Music in Moscow and was also a student of the Moscow Conservatory. Originally she studied violin and viola playing, but then had to train her voice. She attracted the attention of the famous Russian contralto Maria Maxakowa, who gave her lessons and encouraged her in her career.
In 1957, Valentina Levko began her stage career at the Academic Music Theatre in Moscow after she had won a singing competition there. In 1959, she was engaged at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and soon became one of the most important artists of this opera house. Her numerous guest appearances in Russia brought her a great reputation around the world. So she performed at La Scala in Milan, on opera stages in Germany, France and North America. In 1968 and 1970 she undertook concert tours in West Germany, in which she sang mostlty Russian folk and art songs. On stage, in addition to the alto parts of the Russian operatic repertoire, she performed several roles from the general operatic literature. She was considered a great actress, and was named Artist of the USSR.
Valentina Levko’s recordings of the Soviet Union production (Melodiya), include two complete recordings of Pique Dame by Tchaikovsky (as an old countess; the first from 1966, the second from 1974), some of them were printed bu Eurodisc (Pique Dame) and Philips.