January 4, 2004 by

Renata Babak


Categories: Education, Musicians

rbabak.jpgRenata Babak was an internationally renowned mezzo-soprano with the Bolshoi Opera when she defected from the Soviet Union in 1973.
While performing with the opera company in Milan, Babak donned a wig and dark sunglasses and slipped out of the hotel lobby. She immigrated to Canada and spent two years hiding from authorities. When she returned to public life, Babak spoke out against Russia’s repression of artists.
Babak moved to New York in 1975, and made her U.S. debut to a standing room-only audience at Carnegie Hall. From there, the Ukrainian-born singer traveled to Washington D.C. to work with George London, the general director of the Washington Opera.
“At her best Renata Babak is, in my opinion, one of the supreme operatic artists in the world,” he once said. When London was disabled by a stroke, Babak joined the faculty of the Washington Conservatory of Music as a teacher of voice, opera and diction. She became a U.S. citizen in 1993 and gave recitals for another decade. Her last opera was in 1997 when she performed in Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta” with Opera Camerata of Washington.
Babak died on Dec. 31 from pancreatic cancer. She was 69.
Sound Clips of Babak in Concert

2 Responses to Renata Babak

  1. Katya

    I’d like to express my deep reverence to the wonderful singer Renata Babak, who is also my grandmother. I’m very much saddened by the fact that she passed away last year.I love her very much and I always will.

  2. Juanita Adams

    Ranata Babak was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. She had a spectacular voice, and she was a brilliant teacher who never gave up on a student whom she thought had talent. I came to her late in my singing life, and old habits were hard to break. I wish I could tell her how much I now understand what she was trying to teach me. We clashed a lot; she called me stubborn and even sometimes lazy. I now agree with her. Perhaps I wanted more than I was willing to work for, or perhaps it was too late for me to change. I stopped my classes some six months before she died and didn’t know about her illness until a short time before she died. I’d like her family to know how much I miss her and how I appreciate the time we worked together. I also want them to know that during that time we developed a friendship which I feel will be a part of me throughout the rest of my life.
    Juanita Adams

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