Though internationally her career was somewhat overshadowed by the other lyric sopranos of her day, perhaps due to an often understated presentation, her silvery voice, not large but focused enough to carry through even a Verdi and light Wagner orchestra, and her charm, winsome but not overly kittenish, made her a favorite in many European houses, particularly in Germany.
She studied music at the Barcelona Conservatory, and like many
Spanish singers, she began her career in zarzuela, making her stage debut (as a mezzo) in 1949. While she left the zarzuela stage fairly soon, she maintained her ties to that genre, and throughout her career often recorded or performed zarzuela music in recitals. Her classical debut was in Barcelona in 1952, as a soloist in Beethoven's Ninth. Her operatic debut was as Cherubino in 1955 at Aix-en-Provence. She also made her Covent Garden debut that year as Violetta in La traviata, and her Glyndebourne debut the next year as Pamina in The Magic Flute. In 1958, she first appeared at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, beginning an association that lasted over 30 years. She was one of the most beloved artists at that house, and was awarded the title of Kammersangerin after just five years there, in 1963. She made her Salzburg Festival debut in 1961, in Idomeneo, and her Metropolitan Opera debut not until 1966, as Donna Elvira.
Early in her career she focused on the lighter lyric roles, especially Mozart, but as she matured vocally, she was able to add considerably heavier roles, including Eva in Der Meistersinger and Elizabeth in Verdi's Don Carlo without taxing her voice beyond its resources. She made relatively few recordings, but among those, her Violetta in La traviata (London 443 000-2) is one of the few that captures the elegance and style of the famous courtesan as well as the feverishness of her doomed love affair. Read less