Nilsson, Birgit (1918–2005)

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Nilsson, Birgit (1918–2005)

Swedish soprano. Born in Vastra Karup, Sweden, May 17, 1918; died Dec 25, 2005, in Vastra Karup; studied with Joseph Hislop; m. Bertil Niklasson, 1948.

World-class Wagnerian soprano whose powerful voice was legendary, was accepted at Stockholm Royal Academy of Music (1941), earning 1st place over 47 applicants; made informal debut as Agatha in Der Freischütz (1946); made formal debut with Stockholm Opera as Lady Macbeth (1947); appeared at Glyndebourne as Elektra in Idomeneo (1951); appeared as Elsa in Bayreuth (1954), singing there for 16 years; made American debut in San Francisco (1956), as Brünnhilde in Die Walkürie; debuted at Covent Garden as Brünnhilde in the Ring (1957) and at Teatro alla Scala as Turandot during the Puccini centenary celebration (1958); debuted at Metropolitan Opera (1959), singing there until her retirement (1982); was best known for her major Wagnerian roles—all 3 Brünnhildes in the Ring cycle, Isolde in Tristan, Elsa in Lohengrin, Elisabeth and Venus in Tannhäuser; also sang Mozart and Strauss, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Elektra; made many fine recordings, including an especially distinguished Ring cycle in collaboration with conductor Sir Georg Solti; retired (1984).

See also autobiography My Memoirs in Pictures (Doubleday, 1981); and Women in World History.

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Nilsson, Birgit (1918–2005)

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