14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, August 19, 2021 — During the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the prestigious Cuban opera singer Gladys Puig died in Havana at the age of 88 after a long fight against Alzheimer’s, close friends of the artist confirmed to 14ymedio. “For a year a person had been caring for her in her house, because she was previously in a nursing home,” said one of the sources.
Her wake is being held this Thursday morning at the Bernardo Garcia de Zanja y Belascoaín funeral home, in Centro Habana. Friends of the artist point out to this newspaper that the official cultural institutions have not sent “even a single wreath” of flowers.
In tribute to the artist, the tenor Bernardo Lichilín performed the Ave Maria at the funeral home. “My humble prayer to Our Dear Gladys Puig” he wrote when sharing a video about the moment on social media.
A teacher of several generations, the artist was born in the capital on November 26, 1932 into a family of musicians, among whom her father, the conductor Cheo Belén Puig, stands out.
She began her studies at the Municipal Conservatory of Havana, known today by the name Amadeo Roldán. Her first singing teacher was soprano Zoila Gálvez, but she later perfected her technique in Italy with maestro Napoleone Annovazzi.
Puig’s professional debut took place at the Musical Theater, with the Gonzalo Roig Lyric Theater under the direction of Héctor Quintero. In January 1958 she performed the Cuba premier of the work El Tabardo, by Giacomo Puccini, with the Grupo Experimental de Ópera. In those years she joined the Pro Arte Musical cast in works such as The Secret Marriage by Cimarosa, Manon by Massenet, and she also participated in the first presentation in Cuba of Puccini’s Sor Angélica.
In 1961 she premiered in Cuba Giancarlo Menotti’s comic opera Amelia Goes to the Dance, playing the title role. That same year she participated in the opera seasons with the pieces Doña Francisquita and Cecilia Valdés, composed by Gonzalo Roig.
The soprano was the founder of the National Lyric Theater of Cuba, created on November 11, 1962, a project in which she developed a wide repertoire of operas, operettas and zarzuelas, almost always in leading roles. She is remembered for her participation in titles such as: The Merry Widow, Luisa Fernanda, María la O, Cecilia Valdes, Lola Cruz, and The Slave.
“Today a great one set out on an eternal journey. Having had the joy of sharing with her in her last stage work, as the old woman Alcina, was a luxury and a tribute that the Lyric Theater offered her for having given so much glory to her country. Beautiful woman, humble, professional, teacher,” wrote professor and countertenor Ubail Zamora on her Facebook profile.
“Always elegant, she was an example to everyone of how to stay beautiful despite the years. You leave us, but you will always be part of the Lyric Theater of Cuba, and wherever you go, a round of applause will sound as the best gift for the great artist, the teacher, and above all, the person we had the pleasure of knowing,” added her colleague from the Camerata Vocale Sine Nomine.
Translated by Tomás A.
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