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Ludwig, Christa (1924—)

Ludwig, Christa (1924—)

German mezzo-soprano. Born in Berlin, Germany, on March 16, 1924; daughter of Eugenia Besalla and Anton Ludwig (both opera singers); studied with her mother and Hüni-Mihacek in Frankfurt; married Walter Berry, in 1957 (divorced 1970); married Paul-Emile Deiber (an actor and stage director), in 1972; children: (first marriage) one son.

Made debut in Frankfurt (1946), and Salzburg (1954); was a member of the Vienna Staatsoper (from 1954); made Metropolitan Opera debut (1959), appearing there for ten seasons; debuted at Bayreuth (1966–67), Covent Garden (1969); was an honorary member of the Vienna Staatsoper (1980).

Christa Ludwig's voice ranked with that of Kirsten Flagstad and Rosa Ponselle . Hers was the happy alliance of a beautiful instrument with fastidious training. Her parents Eugenia Besalla and Anton Ludwig both sang at the Vienna Volksoper. Her mother was her main teacher and for a long period "built" her voice note by note on the foundations of proper breath support. This strong training allowed Ludwig to perform a broad repertoire. She performed in Frankfurt, Darmstadt, and Hanover in the 1950s, moving on to the Vienna Staatsoper where she sang regularly from 1957. For several years, Ludwig focused on soprano roles before deciding to return to the mezzo-soprano repertoire. Although this choice was probably a good one, the higher voice seemed completely comfortable for her. As a soprano, she was probably the greatest Leonore of her time. Whether she performed Octavian in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier or Fricka and Waltraute in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Ludwig was equally impressive. When singing Wagner, her reserves seemed to be bottomless. A memorable performer, she continued to concertize into her 60s.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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