The soprano Teresa Żylis-Gara is one of the most outstanding Polish singers of the 20th century. Her magnificent lyrical soprano of an unusual quality and dramatic possibilities draws audiences both to concert halls and operas. The stunning career, however, is the outcome of the artist's long and intensive effort. She studied in Łódź. The winning of an All-Polish Competition of Young Vocalists in Warsaw results in her first engagement.
In 1956 Teresa Żylis-Gara made her début at the Cracow Opera as the eponymous heroine of Stanisław Moniuszko's Halka. The next success at a radio competition in Munich in 1960 allows her to perform on German opera stages such as Oberhausen, Dortmund and Düsseldorf. In 1965 she makes a début at the renowned English festival at Glyndebourne, playing the part of Octavian in Strauss' Rosenkavalier. A real breakthrough in her career, however, comes the following year in Paris, where she performs the part of Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Juan. That part was to bring the Polish artist great fame. Teresa Żylis-Gara's career now takes on a staggering momentum. In 1968 she performs at the Mozart festival in Salzburg under the leadership of the famous Herbert von Karajan. That year she also makes a début at London's Covent Garden as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata, as well as being invited to the San Francisco opera to perform as Donna Elvira. Still in the same year she makes a début at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the stage with which she was connected the longest. She also cooperated closely with the opera theatres in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, as well as with Milan's La Scala and Vienna's Staatsoper. Teresa Żylis-Gara's repertoire is enormous and includes 24 great parts in operas by G. Verdi, R. Strauss, G. Puccini, W.A. Mozart, E. Chausson. Her stage partners were the greatest operatic artists such as Carlo Bergonzi, José Carreras, Franco Corelli, Fiorenza Cossotto, Plácido Domingo, Nikolai Giaurov, Sherrill Milnes, Luciano Pavarotti, Rugiero Raimondi, Jon Vickers, Ingvar Wixell. The artist, however, does not confine herself to the opera alone. She also performed at the most renowned musical festivals in Salzburg, Orange, Glyndebourne and Gent. The form she particularly favours is the song. In this field she feels the most closely drawn by the vocal works of Slavonic and Romance composers.
Teresa Żylis-Gara has recorded for such renowned companies as the EMI, Deutsche Gramophon, Harmonia Mundi, Erato, as well as Polskie Nagrania. Her recordings include both great operatic creations (such as W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni, E. Chausson's Le Roi Arthus, R. Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos), oratorial music (J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), A. Dvořak's Requiem, G. Verdi's Messa da Requiem, Gustav Mahler's Das Klagende Lied) and songs by F. Chopin, S. Moniuszko and E. Lalo.
The recent years have broadened the Teresa Żylis-Gara's activities by one other domain: teaching vocally-gifted young people. With a characteristic passion and pedagogical talent, she passes to her students knowledge of vocal technique and interpretation. She is invited to lead Master's Courses in Europe and the USA. In Monaco, where she has settled, she is regularly visited by groups of students for whom the contact with Teresa Żylis-Gara's personality is often a decisive factor in their further artistic career.