Mariana Paunova. Contralto, pianist, b Kapinovo, Bulgaria, 13 Jun 1951, naturalized Canadian 1975, d Port Jefferson, New York, 27 Jul 2002; diploma (State Music School, Sofia, Bulgaria) 1967, M MUS piano (Conservatorio Santa Cecilia, Rome) 1970, lauréat (Académie de musique du Québec) 1971. After five years of studies in Sofia, Paunova took courses in piano from Jan Ekier in Poland (summer 1967) and studied piano in Rome 1967-70 with Guido Agosti and Vincenzo Vitale. In 1970 she won second prize at the Francesco Paolo Neglia International Piano Competition in Enna, Sicily, and moved to Montreal as an accompanist at McGill University. She studied voice the following year with Dina Maria Narici and participated in a Sarah Fischer concert in 1972. The same year she won the silver medal at the International Singing Competition in Toulouse. In 1973 she won both the Canadian Music Competition and the CBC Talent Festival, and that summer she studied lieder interpretation with John Newmark at the Orford Art Centre. She worked on stage deportment and techniques 1973-6 at the McGill Opera Studio with Edith Della Pergola and Luciano Della Pergola. She sang with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra (Messiah) and the Montreal Elgar Choir (Mozart's Mass in C Minor, Bach's Mass in B Minor) and appeared on many CBC-Radio and TV programs.
In 1978 Paunova made her debut at Carnegie Hall as Isaura in a concert presentation of Rossini's Tancredi (recorded on Historical Recording Enterprises HRE-238-3) by the Opera Orchestra of New York. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in April 1979 as Olga in Eugene Onegin, a role she repeated in a concert performance of the opera by the Toronto Symphony in 1980. She recorded Dukas's Ariane et Barbe-Bleue with the Nouvel orchestre philharmonique conducted by Armin Jordan (1983, Erato ECD-88097). Latterly she pursued her career mainly in the USA, but also sang in Europe, Mexico, and Canada, including a 1982 performance at the Opera de Montréal as Azucena in Il Trovatore. Subsequent performances include the role of La Comandante in Riccardo Zandonai's I Cavalieri di Ekebù at Alice Tully Hall in 2000. Paunova taught at the Manhattan School of Music until 2002.