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Maria Guleghina was born in Odessa, Ukraine (during the Soviet Era), to an Armenian father and a Ukrainian mother, where she studied voice at the Music Conservatory with Evgeny Nikolaevich Ivanov (under whose tutorship she remained even after graduation).
Guleghina made her stage debut in 1985 as Yolantha at the State Opera in Minsk (Belarus) shortly before leaving USSR to pursue an international career.
Her international debut came in 1987 as Amelia (opposite Luciano Pavarotti's Riccardo) in a production of Un ballo in maschera at La Scala. Leading roles in I due Foscari, Manon Lescaut, and Tosca followed, and soon she was engaged to perform in Vienna, Munich, Hamburg, London, and other major European opera houses. She made her debut at the Paris Opéra in 1995, in the killer-role of Abigail in Nabucco.
Her American debut took place at The Metropolitan Opera in 1990, where she sang Maddalena in Andrea Chénier (again, sharing the stage with Pavarotti). She has also appeared at the San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, adding the lead soprano roles in works such as Ernani, Simon Boccanegra, Cavalleria rusticana, Fedora. She later added other demanding roles such as Odabella in Attila (opera) and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (opera), to her ever growing repertoire. She also debuted at Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1992 as Lisa in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades.
Guleghina has also performed in Japan many times (twice as a part of La Scala's tours of Japan) and has a fan base there. She is considered by most as one the leading dramatic sopranos of her generation. Though her technique is inconsistent, she is largely admired for her warm and rich voice, strong stage presence, and absolute dramatic commitment to her roles on the stage. She sang the opening aria (Aida) at the official opening of the new National Opera House in Oslo. Through November 2009 she is starring as Turandot in the opera Turandot at the Met in NY.
- Le guide de l'opéra, les indispensables de la musique, R. Mancini & J-J. Rouveroux, (Fayard, 1995), ISBN 2-213-59567-4