Galina Vishnevskaya, the great Russian soprano, has died. It feels very strange to learn this today as my other half and I spent part of the weekend listening to a very fresh-voiced, and dramatically piercing Galina sing Liu from Turandot (with Nilsson and Corelli). Every time I listen to her, I rethink an old prejudice–that she suffered too much from that strident, Slavic sound–that somehow got lodged in my ear early, and mistakenly. It was a distinctive sound, and as Liu the tone was often blindingly white on top; but it was also pure and clean and wonderfully focused. Of course, it helps to see her in action, as one can in the remarkable film version she made of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth, which is one of the greatest opera films ever made, and sadly too little known in this country. Just last night, while making dinner, we were talking about her (strange coincidence) and we fell back on that easy but obvious and obviously true summation: She wasn’t just a singer, she was an artist.