Wilhelmenia Fernandez, sometimes billed as Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez, is an American soprano, born in Philadelphia in 1949, who became famous as the star of the film Diva (1981) by French director Jean-Jacques Beineix.
Fernandez's early training was at the Philadelphia Academy of Vocal Arts, followed by a scholarship at The Juilliard School of Music in New York. Her operatic debut was as Bess in Porgy and Bess, for Houston Grand Opera, a production which toured both the USA and Europe.
She made her début in Paris as Musetta in La bohème (with Plácido Domingo and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa), and at the New York City Opera in the same role in 1982.
Since then she has sung in operas and recitals in cities all over the world, her most notable roles being Carmen, Carmen Jones (for which she received the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1992 as Best Actress in a Musical), and Aïda, a role she has performed in Luxor and at the Pyramids in Egypt.
She has made recordings of George Gershwin and of Negro spirituals.
Wilhelmenia now lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband Met Opera baritone Andrew W. Smith and has sung in the major opera houses of the world but not at the Met. Her full name now is Wilhelmenia Fernandez Smith.