Russian opera star Galina Vishnevskaya has died at the age of 86.

The soprano passed away in Moscow on Tuesday (11Dec12) following a series of heart problems.

Born in St. Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad, she made her professional stage debut in 1944 and became a member of the Bolshoi Ballet, where she performed in more than 30 productions.

In 1966 she was named People's Artist of the Ussr and five years later Vishnevskaya received the highest cultural accolade in the Soviet Union - the Order of Lenin.

Frequently performing with her now-late husband, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, she also opened her own theatre, the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Centre, and made her film debut in Alexandra, which premiered at France's Cannes Film Festival in 2007.

She is scheduled to be buried at the Novodevichy cemetery on Friday (14Dec12).

Former President Mikhail Gorbachev has paid tribute to the singer in a statement, which reads, "(This is a) huge loss for Russian culture. She was an outstanding performer and singer, a person with a global name.”