Behrens, Hildegard (1937—)

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Behrens, Hildegard (1937—)

German soprano. Born in Oldenburg, Germany, on February 9, 1937; law degree from the University of Freiburg; studied voice withInes Leuwen at the Freiburg Music Academy.

Debuted in Freiburg (1971) as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro; appeared at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf; performed several roles in Berg's Wozzeck; debuted at Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera (1976); appeared as Salome in Salzburg (1977); sang Brünnhilde at Bayreuth (1983).

A Wagnerian soprano, Hildegard Behrens earned this title in 1977 when she performed as Salome in Salzburg under the direction of Herbert von Karajan. However, she also appeared in such non-Wagnerian roles as Elektra in Mozart's Idomeneo, Elena in Janácek's The Makropoulous Case, and the Empress in Richard Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten. An intelligent singer with a law degree from the University of Freiburg, Behrens carefully researched all her characters, and her acting abilities were said to be as great as her singing talent. Her top notes distinguished her voice which was powerful and stunning, but with the passage of time parts of her voice showed the effects of the inevitable strain of performing large roles. Though an excellent actress, Behrens sometimes lacked stamina, causing audiences to fear she might run out of voice. She made numerous recordings and will be particularly remembered for her performances as Salome and Elektra.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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Behrens, Hildegard (1937—)

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