Opera star Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez Smith has died at 75 in Kentucky

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Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez Smith, a renowned soprano known for her capacity successful nan 1981 French cult-classic movie "Diva" and who sang done nan U.S. and Europe during her operatic career, has died astatine property 75.

Funeral services were held Friday for Fernandez Smith astatine a religion successful Lexington, Kentucky, wherever she had moved aft domiciled for years successful her autochthonal Philadelphia. She died of crab Feb. 2 astatine her location successful Lexington, girl Sheena Maria Fernandez told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Billed arsenic Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, she opened nan movie directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix wearing a achromatic gown and singing successful an aging theatre nan aria "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana" from the opera "La Wally." It became nan signature aria of her 25-year profession that took her to nan awesome opera houses successful Europe and made her nan centerpiece of gala occasions.


She graduated from nan Academy of Vocal Arts successful Philadelphia and continued her acquisition astatine nan Juilliard School successful New York. Filmmakers for "Diva" approached her while she sang "La boheme" successful Paris, starring to a movie sprout for nan thriller that would alteration her life, nan Inquirer reported.

"The movie gave maine an vulnerability that I could not person imagined, and I had to drawback up pinch my ain fame erstwhile nan floodgates opened to do countless operas," she recalled. "My repertory simply wasn’t that great, and location was truthful overmuch anticipation to do everything well."

Fernandez Smith spent much clip in Kentucky aft her now-late husband, Andrew Smith, returned successful nan 1990s to nan area wherever he grew up to nonstop nan sound programme astatine Kentucky State University, nan Lexington Herald-Leader reported. In Lexington, she was known arsenic a typical acquisition coach astatine an simple schoolhouse and a personnel of Main Street Baptist Church, wherever she worked pinch nan children’s euphony program.

"Wilhelmenia was ever a very quiet personification and did not crave nan limelight," Everett McCorvey, head of nan University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, told nan Lexington newspaper. "Although nan limelight craved her."

In summation to her daughter, Fernandez Smith’s survivors see a sister, Kerr Brothers Funeral Home of Lexington said connected its website.