Page last updated at 11:54 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Opera's Irina Arkhipova dies at 85

Irina Arkhipova with Russian president Vladimir Putin
Arkhipova was honoured by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2005

Russian opera singer Irina Arkhipova, who performed at the Bolshoi theatre for decades, has died aged 85.

The director of the Arkhipova Foundation said the singer died on Thursday at Moscow's Botkin hospital.

Arkhipova, a mezzo-soprano and later contralto, sang leading roles for the Bolshoi, reaching the peak of her career in the 1960s and 1970s.

She also made guest appearances throughout Europe and the US in roles like Amneris in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida.

Arkhipova's most celebrated roles included Carmen in Bizet's Carmen, Marina and Marfa in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina and Helene in Prokofiev's War and Peace.

Her full and rich voice was admired for its power and intensity, and was praised for technically perfect and highly emotional performance.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent his condolences to Arkhipova's family following the news of her death.

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