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Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Soprano)

Born: September 22, 1941 - Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

The admired Bulgarian soprano, Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Sintov), began her musical path very early, starting with the piano at the age of six. Ten years later she won her first national singing competition which led to her entering the National Conservatory of Sofia. There, she studied voice with Prof. Zlatev-Tcherkin and the soprano, Katja Spiridonowa. She graduated from the conservatory with a diploma in voice and piano, performing, for her master class finals, on stage for the first time Tatjana in Tchaikowsky’s “Eugene Onegin”.

Following this, Anna Tomowa-Sintow was immediately invited to join the Opera Studio of the Leipzig Opera, where in 1967 she made her professional stage debut as Abigaille in Nabucco. She then gradually built up her repertoire with the leading roles from Madama Butterfly, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Otello, Manon Lescaut, Don Giovanni, Arabella, and ‘Ninabella’ in Werner Egk's, Die Zaubergeige. On most of these roles, she studied with the Music Director of the Opera, Professor Paul Schmitz, a personal student of Richard Strauss. During this period, she also began performing in concerts and recordings with the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Kurt Masur. In 1971 she won gold medals at the international vocal competitions in both Sofia and Rio de Janeiro.

In 1972, Anna Tomowa-Sintow was asked to join the company of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, where she was named “Kammersängerin” during her very first year. A few years later she received the same title at the Vienna Staatsoper. In Berlin, she continued to expand her repertoire with Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan tutte, Ariadne auf Naxos, Aida, Tosca, Der Rosenkavalier, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and Eugene Onegin. The critic Ernst Krause admiringly called her their "Arabellissima". Her first international breakthrough occurred in Paris in 1973 with the Verdi Requiem at the Dôme des Invalides and a few months later in Geneva with Otello. During the same year she inaugurated the NHK Hall in Tokyo with L.v. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under Wolfgang Sawallisch.

In 1973, Anna Tomowa-Sintow auditioned for Herbert von Karajan for the upcoming world premiere of Karl Orff`s De temporum fine comoedia at the Salzburg Summer Festival. She was immediately engaged and continued to work with the great Maestro for 17 years in a strong collaboration that spanned from the stage to concert halls (including tours to America and Japan), with numerous recordings and films. In “A Biographical Portrait” by Roger Vaughan (Weidenfeld & Nicholson), Herbert von Karajan declared about Tomowa-Sintow: “Toscanini never had access to a voice like hers - she can hit C sharp at nine o’clock in the morning.”

Anna Tomowa-Sintow’s association with the Salzburg Festival and Maestro Herbert von Karajan occupies a special place in her career. In the years from 1973 to 1991 she was a permanent guest at the Salzburg Festivals during which her many performances and recordings with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics set standards for thegenerations to come. With Maestro Herbert von Karajan she performed Elsa, Contessa Almaviva, Donna Anna, numerous concerts, including her signature piece, Strauss’ Four Last Songs, the Verdi Requiem, the Mozart Requiem and Johannes BrahmsGerman Requiem and others, all of which were recorded and to the most part filmed as well. She began with her unique Strauss interpretations in Salzburg in 1982 as Ariadne with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting, followed in 1983/84 by her triumphant Marschallin in Herbert von Karajan’s production of Der Rosenkavalier. This performance was televised and documented on CD and Video. Then, in 1985/86, to immense critical and public success, followed her Countess Madelaine in Capriccio under Horst Stein, which was revived and filmed for television in 1990. After having attended one of the Capriccio rehearsals, Herbert von Karajan immediately decided to record the final monologue (for the first time) along with the Four Last Songs. About this recording, which won several international awards, he later said: “Anna left us an exemplary interpretation of both of these works”.

During these years in Salzburg Anna Tomowa-Sintow performed Donna Anna twice. The first time in 1977-1978, in Ponnelle’s production of Don Giovanni under Karl Böhm (also recorded), and again under Herbert von Karajan (telecasted and released on Video) exactly ten years later. In 1989 she performed, for the first time in Salzburg, the role of Tosca with conductor Georges Prêtre.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest sopranos of our days, Anna Tomowa-Sintow has performed in all the major opera houses around the world. Following her debut at Covent Garden in 1975 as Fiordiligi, she regularly returned to this house with roles, such as Elsa, Contessa Almaviva, Ariadne, Amelia, Maddalena (Andrea Chénier/ televised and released on Video), Jaroslawna (Prince Igor/ Bernard Haitink cond./ televised and released on Video), her first Kaiserin (Die Frau ohne Schatten), which was unanimously received as one of her greatest interpretations, and Tosca. In 1995 she returned to Covent Garden for a triumphant Marschallin in London.

Anna Tomowa-Sintow’s La Scala opera debut took place in 1982 as Elsa in the Claudio Abbado/Strehler production of Lohengrin for the opening of the season. With the Scala she also performed Desdemona to Plácido Domingo’s Otello and Carlos Kleiber conducting, Andrea Chénier with Carreras and Riccardo Chailly in the pit, as well as a concert of the Four Last Songs with Wolfgang Sawallisch and a solo recital. At the Vienna Staatsoper, she has not only presented her entire Strauss and Mozart repertoire, but also performed a wide range of Italian roles, including Leonora (La Forza del Destino), Manon Lescaut, Aida, Tosca, Amelia, Desdemona (new production, Zubin Mehta conducting) and Elisabeth (Tannhäuser, new production, Lorin Maazel cond.) as well as Tatjana in Eugene Onegin. Another opera house which she has been visiting regularly is the Münich Staatsoper, where two of her most important triumphs during the 1980’s were the premieres of Aida (Riccardo Muti conducting) and Manon Lescaut (Riccardo Chailly conducting). At the Grand Opéra de Paris, she has been seen as Leonora (La Forza del Destino/ telecasted), Elsa and Elisabeth in a production of Tannhäuser, which inspired its director Istvan Szabo to make the movie Meeting Venus. In 1993 Anna Tomowa-Sintow added another important role to her famous Strauss repertoire by presenting for the first time, to tremendous success, the mammoth part of the Ägyptische Helena in a concert performance in Paris and shortly after that in a staged production at the Athens Festival. 1984 saw her in a spectacular production of Un Ballo in Maschera in Geneva with Pavarotti and Cappuccilli, which was also recorded for television.

Anna Tomowa-Sintow’s debuts with the three major American opera houses have all been with Donna Anna (Don Giovanni): SaFrancisco in 1974, the Metropolitan Opera in 1976 and the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1980. San Francisco then saw her Leonora (La Forza) in 1976 and Elisabetta (Don Carlo) in 1979. She returned frequently for major productions at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was invited to participate in the telecasted Met’s Centennial Gala where she thrilled the audience with a spectacular “Ernani involami”. The following year, she opened the Met 1984 season with Elsa to Plácido Domingo's Lohengrin, in a much acclaimed portrayal. Later returns included the telecast of Simone Boccanegra (released on Video) and Aida (with L. Pavarotti), all conducted by James Levine with whom she recorded the Grammy award-winning Ariadne auf Naxos. Met audiences also cheered her very first Marschallin under Erich Leinsdorf in 1979, her moving Traviata in 1987 and her exciting Tosca in 1993. She became a particular favorite of Chicago audiences through her performances of Donna Anna, Aida (with Pavarotti for the opening of the season in 1983), Madama Butterfly (in the ravishing, televised Harold Prince production), her spectacular Leonora (Il Trovatore), La Traviata, the Marschallin and Tatjana- all of which were conducted by Bruno Bartoletti.

Anna Tomowa-Sintow has also given numerous recitals throughout the world: Paris, La Scala, Vienna, the Salzburg Festival, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid and Tokyo. Her recital repertoire comprises a diverse range including J. Brahms, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninov. All of her concert repertoire has been recorded (most of it also filmed and released on video) under the baton of Herbert von Karajan: L.v. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis, J. BrahmsDeutsches Requiem, Bruckner’s Te Deum, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, as well as J.S. Bach’s Magnificat (BWV 243), B-Minor Mass (BWV 232), Saint Matthew Passion (BWV 244), Verdi’s Requiem and Strauss’ Four Last Songs. Her most recent recording, Erich Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane, was received with tremendous international acclaim and stands alongside her diverse and extensive operatic discography: Le Nozze di Figaro, two Don Giovanni (Karl Böhm and Herbert von Karajan), Die Zauberflöte, Eugene Onegin, Lohengrin, Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, La Traviata, as well as three aria-albums and a recording of Haydn’s Creation.

Anna Tomowa-Sintow is renowned for her unique artistry in both the Italian and German repertoires and is constantly further developing and deepening the different facets of these two. In 1995 she gave her very first Norma in Zürich with tremendous success and in 1997 she sang her first Sieglinde next to Rene Kollo's Siegmund. In 1998 followed her triumphant successes with her first Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana) at the Staatsoper Berlin and her first Salome in concert for the season's opening of the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. On occasion of the reopening of the Liceu in Barcelona, in October 1999, Anna Tomowa-Sintow performed Turandot for the first time in her career.

During the Spring of 2000 Anna Tomowa-Sintow once again enchanted her audiences at the London Royal Opera House Covent Garden with her Marschallin. In September another of her powerful Strauss roles, the Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten will be presented at the Deutsche Oper Berlin under Christian Thielemann. Thereafter, Anna Tomowa-Sintow will conclude the Millenium with her Maddalena from Andrea Chenier in Spain.

Source: Artist Biography: Anna Tomowa-Sintow Website (September 2000)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2001); Matthias Hansen (Photo 06, August 2009)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Herbert von Karajan


BWV 243 [3rd]

Links to other Sites

Artist Biography: Anna Tomowa-Sintow
Anna Tomowa-Sintow - Home Page
Anna Tomowa Sintow - Recital (Boris Orlob) [English/German]

xrefer - Tomowa-Sintow, Anna (1941)
Anna Tomowa-Sintov [German]

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