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Russian opera legend Irina Arkhipova dies at 85

MOSCOW - Irina Arkhipova, a Soviet-era diva who sang at the Bolshoi theater for decades, has died. She was 85.

The director of the Arkhipova Foundation, Nadezhda Khachaturova, said the singer died of cardiac arrest Thursday at Moscow's Botkin hospital.

Arkhipova, a mezzo-soprano and later contralto, sang leading roles for the Bolshoi for decades after joining it in 1956. She reached the peak of her career in the 1960s and 1970s, making guest appearances throughout Europe and the United States.

Her most celebrated roles included Carmen in Bizet's "Carmen," Amneris in Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida," Marina and Marfa in Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" and Khovanshchina and Helene in Prokofiev's "War and Peace."

"She was a great singer and a great actress, one of those who can create an image with her voice," Bolshoi soloist Zurab Sotkilava said, according to RIA Novosti news agency. "It was easy and incredibly pleasant to sing with her." - AP

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