Russian opera star Galina Vishnevskaya has passed away at 86.

Besides leaving her mark on the world of Russian opera, the diva was famous for opposing the Soviet regime by giving shelter to writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn. For this she was exiled from Russia along with her husband, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Vishnevskaya and her family left the Soviet Union with their in 1974. They lived in Paris and then Washington, and were stripped of their Soviet citizenship in 1978.

Vishnevskaya became renowned for her stunning soprano interpretation. Before her exile, she performed in the Bolshoi theatre for two decades. Her first performance was in Evgeni Onegin and she went on to perform dozens of roles in classical Russian and European operas. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the family returned to Russia, where they dived into charity and social work, helping to restore the country and being especially active in the arts. Earlier this year, president Vladimir Putin awarded the diva with the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland,” first class, for her “outstanding contribution to Russian culture and music”.

The Moscow Opera Centre, founded by the prima, released a statement about Vishnevskaya’s passing on Tuesday, but did not give the cause.