Christa Ludwig

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Ludwig, Christa

Ludwig, Christa, celebrated German mezzo-soprano; b. Berlin, March 16, 1924. She was reared in a musical family. Her father, Anton Ludwig, was a tenor and an operatic administrator, and her mother, Eugenie Besalla, was a mezzo-soprano. She studied with her mother and in Frankfurt am Main with Hüni-Mihacsek. In 1946 she made her debut as Orlovsky there, and continued to sing there until 1952. After appearances in Darmstadt (1952–54), she made her debut at the Salzburg Festival as Cherubino in 1954. In 1954–55 she sang in Hannover. In 1955 she joined the Vienna State Opera, where she became one of its principal artists and was made a Kammersängerin in 1962. In 1959 she made her U.S. debut as Dorabella in Chicago. On Dec. 10, 1959, she made her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. as Cherubino, and subsequently returned there regularly. Among the many outstanding roles she sang in Vienna and N.Y. were Octavian, the Dyer’s Wife, Ortrud, Fricka in Die Walküre, the Marschallin, Kundry, Charlotte in Werther, Lady Macbeth, Didon in Les Troy-ens, and Strauss’s Clytemnestra. In 1966 she sang Brangäne at the Bayreuth Festival and in 1969 made her first appearance at London’s Covent Garden as Amn-eris. In addition to her appearances in other leading operatic centers, she pursued a remarkable career as a soloist with orchs. and as a lieder artist. Her performances of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Mahler, and Strauss were noteworthy. In 1957 she married Walter Berry, but they were divorced in 1970. During their marriage and even afterward, they appeared together in operatic and concert settings. On March 20, 1993, Ludwig gave her last N.Y. recital at Carnegie Hall, and on April 3, 1993, made her farewell appearance at the Metropolitan Opera singing Fricka in Die Walküre.Her career closed with concert and operatic farewells in Vienna in 1994. In 1980 she received the Golden Ring of the Vienna State Opera, and in 1981 was made its honorary member. She also was awarded the Silver Rose of the Vienna Phil, in 1980. In 1989 she was honored by the French government as a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur and as a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Her autobiography was publ, as “...und ich wäre so gern Primadonna geworden” (Berlin, 1994). Lud wig’s fine vocal gifts and compelling musical integrity gained her a distinguished reputation as one of the outstanding operatic and concert artists of her day.

Bibliography

P. Lorenz, C. L—Walter Berry: Eine Künstler Biographie (Vienna, 1968).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Ludwig, Christa (b Berlin, 1924). Ger. soprano and mezzo-soprano. Début Frankfurt 1946 (Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus), remaining until 1952. Sang in opera in Darmstadt, Hanover, and Hamburg. Salzburg Fest. début 1955, appearing there regularly until 1993. Vienna Opera 1955–93. Amer début Chicago 1959; NY Met début 1959; CG début 1968. Outstanding Marschallin and Oktavian, Eboli and Leonore (Fidelio). Also noted interpreter of Lieder, Mahler's orch. song-cycles, Verdi Requiem, etc. Retired 1994.