Anna Tomowa-Sintow has earned the reputation as one of the leading operatic sopranos from the latter quarter of the twentieth century. While she has largely been associated with Italian repertory — particularly the operas of Verdi and Puccini — she has also achieved great success in the works of Mozart and Richard Strauss.
Born in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, on September 22, 1941, Tomowa-Sintow was initially attracted to the piano, taking her first lessons at six years of age. She also occasionally sang in operas as a child and later enrolled in the Sofia Conservatory to study voice. Her teachers there included Gyorgy Zlatev-Tscherkin and Katja Spiridonowa. She made her debut at the Leipzig Opera in 1967 singing Abigalle in Verdi's Nabucco. Tomowa-Sintow studied with the opera company's director, Paul Schmitz, in the ensuing years, and he helped her largely in the Italian repertory.
She joined the Berlin Staatsoper in 1972, where along with taking Italian roles, she sang Mozart (Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro) and Strauss (Der Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos). She debuted in Paris in the Verdi Requiem in 1973, then in San Francisco the following year as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. She would make her debut at the two other major American opera houses — the Met (1978) and the Chicago Lyric Opera (1980) — in the same role.
Her other major debuts included Covent Garden in 1975 singing Fiordiligi from Così, and the Vienna State Opera in 1977, again in singing Mozart's Countess Almaviva from Le nozze. In the nearly two-decade period of 1973-1991, she made numerous appearances at Salzburg (and elsewhere) with conductor Herbert von Karajan, who considered her among the finest sopranos of all time. She also made a number of recordings during this period with Karajan and sang with other major conductors, including Böhm, Prêtre, Haitink, Carlos Kleiber, and Maazel.
She sang Tosca at the Met in 1993 to critical acclaim and achieved similar success for her Norma in Zurich in 1995 (her debut in the role), and for the Marschallin in 2000 at Covent Garden, in all instances demonstrating the nearly ageless quality of her voice. In 2002 she launched a successful concert tour, with stops at Barcelona and London. She conducted master classes in 2004 at the Hamburg Opera and has been fairly active on the concert stage in the new century.