An attractive, sympathetic stage figure and a full-voiced spinto-weight singer, soprano Teresa Kubiak enjoyed a career embracing a wide repertory. Unlike most Eastern bloc singers of her time, she evidenced no trace of the strident and vibrato-ridden vocalism that kept pleasure at arm's length. Rather, she used her rounded, soft-edged (but steel-cored) instrument to complement her shrewd characterizations in the Russian, Italian, German, andRead more English languages, as well as for exemplary performances of songs and operas in her native Polish. Kubiak won the respect of many of the world's leading conductors and enjoyed a significant career in America, as well as in Europe. After studying with Olga Olgina in her native city, Kubiak made her 1965 debut in the title role of Stanislaw Moniuszko's Halka in Lodz. Presenting herself as the heroine of this most nationalistic of all Polish operas immediately invited comparisons with her predecessors in the role and the test did the young artist no disservice. Soon, she was engaged in Warsaw and in 1970, she appeared as Sulamith in a Carnegie Hall concert performance of Goldmark's Die Königin von Saba. The good notices she won led to eventual engagements with all three major American companies -- San Francisco, Chicago, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She made her debut at the 1971 Glyndebourne Festival in what was to become something of a signature role, Lisa in Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame. Her appearance that same year as Giunone in Glyndebourne's successful production of Cavalli's La Calisto (subsequently recorded) added further impetus to her career. Kubiak's London opera debut took place in 1972 when she essayed Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House. She made debuts in both Vienna and at the Metropolitan Opera in 1973, her January 18 appearance (Lisa again) at the latter house presaging 15 seasons during which she would undertake some 14 roles. In Chicago, Kubiak made a fleeting appearance in 1971, singing a single performance of Tosca. In 1973, however, she was brought back for an entire run of the Puccini opera and, in 1974, she seemed at first a strange choice for Ellen Orford in Britten's very English Peter Grimes. She confounded doubters, however, by singing and acting an Ellen worthy of comparison with those of Joan Cross (creator of the role) and Sylvia Fisher. Kubiak's English was authentic and understandable and she offered a strong, but concerned figure against the gale-force power of Jon Vickers' Grimes. Kubiak's versatility and integrity as an artist made her valuable for the German and Italian repertories as well. Her Chrysothemis (preserved on disc), her Senta, and her Elisabeth all benefited from the singer's Italianate warmth of sound, the same factor that made her an effective Tosca and Aida. Another role in which she made a considerable impact was Janácek's Jenůfa; her sorely beset, but courageous heroine was unforgettable. Although she made too few recordings to please her followers, Kubiak did participate in several projects that won considerable praise. Her Tatiana, directed by Georg Solti, is both resolute and beautifully sung, even if her fullness of voice makes her less believable as the young woman than as the mature one. Her several collections of Polish songs and her performance of the solo part in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14 are all worthy mementos of a special artist. In retirement, Kubiak has been a prominent vocal adjudicator and a distinguished teacher at Indiana University. Read less
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