Prominent Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, widow of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, died Tuesday in Moscow. She was 86.

"We confirm the sad news, we know nothing about the cause of her death," a spokesperson for the Vishnevskaya Opera Center told Efe.

The future diva lived through the siege of Leningrad that took more than 1.2 million lives during World War II.

She debuted as a singer of operettas in 1944 and later won a singing contest organized by the Bolshoi Theater.

In 1952 she joined the company of that theater, where she became a diva performing the character of Tatiana Larina in "Eugene Onegin" and Doña Anna in "El Convidado de Piedra" among some 30 roles.

In 1961, Vishnevskaya went to New York for a role in "Aida" at the Metropolitan Opera House, and later did the same at the Royal Opera House in London.

En 1974, Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich were forced to leave the USSR under pressure from the authorities, after which they were stripped of all the decorations and titles of their homeland.

But following the Perestroika promoted by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, the couple returned to Russia where all their honors were returned to them. EFE