The mezzo, Mariana Pencheva, was born 17 January 1966 in Plovdiv. After attending the Musical School in Plovdiv as a student of Ivanka Mihailova she studied with Mati Pinkas and Mila Dulgerova at the State Academy of Music in Sofia.
Her student debut was in A Masked Ball with the Pleven Opera Theater in 1989 and her professional debut was with the Teatro Comunale, Firenze in 1992 as Maddalena in Rigoletto. She was a winner of many international competitions including the Viotti Competition in Italy in 1989, the Cascinalirica Competition in Italy in1991, the Voci Verdiane in Busetto, Italy in 1991, and the Lucianno Pavarotti International Competition in Philadelphia in 1992.
Her international career began in Italy with performances in Firenze, Venice, Verona and La Scala in Milan. In December 1994 she performed Ulrica in Ballo with Lucianno Pavarotti in Naples. While she is a regular leading mezzo in the major opera houses of Italy, her international appearances have taken her to Japan, France, Ireland, Brazil and Spain. In the United States the mezzo has appeared in La Favorita with the Opera Company of Philadelphia in 1993 and as Ortrud with the San Diego Opera in February 2000. Major roles include the Princess in Adriana Lecouvreur, Eboli, Ulrica, Olga in Eugene Onegin, Azucena, Laura in Gioconda, Quickly in Falstaff, Santuzza and Venus in Tannhäuser.
Donizetti: La favorita O mio Ferrando
Pacini: Saffo Ah, con liu mi fu rapita
Rossini: Mose Ah! D'une tendre mere
Respighi: La famma No, non assolveri
Saint-Saëns: Samson e Dalila Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix