Fifteen years old, Edita Gruberova is faced with a difficult decision: should she continue with high school, or start training now as a nurse?
The pastor of her hometown of Rača near Bratislava brings a third possibility into the picture. Since she joined confirmation class, he has been captivated by the beauty and clarity of her voice and feels that Edita should become a singer. The girl is unsure at first, but goes ahead with the entrance examination at the conservatory. Not knowing any arias, she passes the exam with a folk song, earning the grade of ‘B.’
At the age of twenty-one she makes her debut as Rosina in Rossini’s Barbiere, and only twenty-three, sings the Queen of the Night at the Vienna State Opera. In the years that follow, she often finds herself on the “supporting role track” at the opera house, until her Zerbinetta brings about her international breakthrough in 1976 – a role in which she remains unsurpassed.
The rest is opera history: to this day, “the Gruberova” is perhaps the only singer in her field whose voice is recognizable after only a few notes. Nikolaus Harnoncourt speaks of an arrow that strikes her listeners’ hearts, giving them the feeling that it couldn’t be performed otherwise.

© Ulla Pilz, ORF - Radio Österreich 1


  • Due to her parents’ ancestry (her mother is from Hungary, her father has German roots), the family is often confronted with difficulties in the former Czechoslovakia

  • 1968 first engagement in the central Slovakian town of Banská Bystrica

  • 1970 debut at the Vienna State Opera singing the Queen of the Night

  • 1971 escape to Vienna with her husband and mother. Edita is in the late stages of pregnancy

  • 1976 international breakthrough with her first Zerbinetta in Vienna

  • 1977 Met debut as the Queen of the Night

  • 1986 settles in Switzerland, where she resides near Zürich

  • 2009 hundredth and final Zerbinetta at the Vienna State Opera

  • Countless awards and honors, including two Echo Klassik Awards, the Herbert von Karajan Music Prize, Grand Badge of Honor of the Republic of Austria, and Bavarian Order of Merit

Did you know?

  • As a child she sings two-part folk songs with her mother; the two of them have such similar voices that they are mistaken for each other on the telephone

  • Edita Gruberova is the mother of two daughters, Klaudia and Barbara

  • She has completely reworked her extraordinary vocal technique on several occasions, the last time around her sixtieth birthday

  • She ends her longtime collaboration with the Zürich Opera in 2002 after her daughter, a dancer and choreographer, falls from the stage, which had been lacking safety measures

  • She herself hardly attends the opera since she is so often irritated by the singers’ inadequate performances

  • To relax, Gruberova works in the garden or reads; she refuses to enter into the computer age

  • Her fans give her nicknames like “The Slovakian Nightingale,” “The Queen of Coloratura,” “The Diva of Belcanto,” and “Primadonna assoluterova”