Stemme "is regarded by today's opera fans as our era's greatest Wagnerian soprano". In 2010, Michael Kimmelman wrote of one of Stemme's performances in Richard Wagner's opera Die Walküre, "As for Brünnhilde, Nina Stemme sang gloriously. It's hard to recall anyone's sounding more commanding or at ease in the part, and that includes Kirsten Flagstad".
Early life and education
Born in Stockholm, the young Stemme played piano and viola. She attended Adolf Fredrik's Music School (Swedish: Adolf Fredriks Musikklasser), a high profile song-and-chorus school in Stockholm. During a year as an exchange student at Langley High School in McLean, Virginia, she joined the school chorus, sang solos and won awards.
Parallel to her studies of business administration and economics at the University of Stockholm, Stemme followed a two-year course at the Stockholm Operastudio. Her debut as Cherubino in Cortona, Italy, in 1989 made Stemme decide to follow a professional singer's career; her studies at the University College of Opera in Stockholm were completed in 1994. In addition to two minor roles at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, she also sang Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Mimì (La bohème), Euridice in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and Diana (La fedeltà premiata by Haydn).
She sang in two singing competitions, Operalia, The World Opera Competition and Cardiff Singer of the World. As winner of Operalia in 1993, Stemme was invited by Plácido Domingo, founder of Operalia, to appear with him in a concert at La Bastille (1993); the same concert also took place on January 1, 1994, in Munich.
Since her 1989 operatic debut as Cherubino in Cortona, Italy, Stemme has appeared with many opera companies, including the Royal Swedish Opera Stockholm, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala Milano, Semperoper Dresden, Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Zurich Opera, Teatro di San Carlo Naples, Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Opéra Bastille Paris, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Covent Garden London, Teatro Real Madrid, Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, the Metropolitan Opera New York, San Francisco Opera, as well as at the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Savonlinna, Glyndebourne and Bregenz festivals.
Her roles include Rosalinde, Mimì in La bohème, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Suor Angelica, Euridice, Katerina in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Marguerite, Agathe, Marie, Nyssia (König Kandaules), Jenůfa, Marschallin, Eva, Elisabeth, Elsa, Senta, Sieglinde, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser and Isolde. This last brought her critical acclaim at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2003, on disc for EMI Classics with Plácido Domingo, Antonio Pappano and the chorus and orchestra of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden released in 2005 and most recently at the Bayreuth Festival in 2005 and again in 2006. In 2007 Stemme returned in the role of Isolde to Glyndebourne Festival Opera where she first made her debut in the role.
In 2006, Stemme sang Maria in the premiere of Sven-David Sandström's Ordet – en passion, on March 24 in Stockholm. She also made her role debut in the title role of Aida in a new production at Zürich Opera and recorded her first album of Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs and final scenes. On the concert platform in 2006–07, she appeared in recital with Antonio Pappano (piano) in Barcelona and Dresden, in concert performances of Salome in Strasbourg and Paris and in recital at the Zürich Opera.
In 2008, Stemme replaced Deborah Voigt in what would have been Voigt's role debut as Brünnhilde in the opera Siegfried, part of a new Vienna State Opera Ring cycle conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. Stemme also sang Brünnhilde in the 2010 season opening at La Scala and in San Francisco Opera's 2011 Ring cycle.
In 2015 Stemme is scheduled to perform at GöteborgsOperan in Gothenburg, Sweden, in a new opera by composer Hans Gefors with libretto by Kerstin Perski and directed by Keith Warner. The opera is based on Alfred Hitchcock's spy thriller Notorious from 1946. Other members of the cast include Katarina Karnéus, John Lundgren and Michael Weinius.
Stemme performs on average 40 times per year in various venues around the world.
- 2004: received Svenska Dagbladets Opera Award (Swedish: Svenska Dagbladets operapris)
- 2005: selected by a German expert 50-member jury through the Opernwelt magazine as the world's leading female opera singer
- 2006: appointed Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music
- 2006: appointed Hovsångerska by Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
- 2008: received the medal Litteris et Artibus by Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
- 2010: received the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera
- 2010: received the Italian award Premio Abbiati
- 2012: selected again by Opernwelt as "Female singer of the year"
- 2012: appointed Austrian Kammersängerin
- 2012: the Gramophone Award for best Opera Record was awarded to DECCA's recording of Beethoven's Fidelio with Stemme performing the role of Leonore with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra directed by Claudio Abbado
- 2013: selected as the world's leading female opera singer by International Opera Awards.
- 2013: received the ninth annual Opera News Award "paying tribute to five superb artists who have made invaluable contributions to the art form: director Patrice Chéreau, tenor Juan Diego Flórez, mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, bass-baritone James Morris and soprano Nina Stemme"
- Liese, Kirsten, Wagnerian Heroines. A Century Of Great Isoldes and Brünnhildes, English translation: Charles Scribner, Edition Karo, Berlin, 2013. OCLC 844683799
Stemme's repertoire includes:
Stemme's recordings include:
- Isolde in Richard Wagners Tristan und Isolde. (3 CD + 1 DVD). EMI 7243 5 58006 2 6
- Strauss, Richard, Vier letzte Lieder. The final scene from Capriccio. The final scene from Salome. EMI Classics 0946 3 78797 2 6
- Isolde in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Glyndebourne festival. Dir. Jiri Belohlavek. Opus Arte DVD OA 0988 D
- Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio. Dir. Claudio Abbado. Salzburger Festspiele. Decca 478 2551 (box), (478 2552, 478 2553)
- The title role in Janáček's Jenůfa. Dir. Peter Schneider. Live from the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 2005. DVD. Naxos
- Senta in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer. Dir. David Parry. Chandos 3119 (2 CD). (Opera in English)
- Mortelmans' concert aria Mignon (Kennst du das Land). Zsolt Hamar, conductor; Flemish Radio Orchestra. In Flanders' Fields, vol. 33. Phaedra 92033
- The title role in Verdi's Aida. Züricher Opernhauses. Dir. Ádám Fischer. DVD. BelAir Classics
- The First Plácido Domingo International Voice Competition - Gala Concert. Dir. Eugene Kohn. Sony classical 01-046691-10
- The Marschallin in Strauss Der Rosenkavalier. Chor des Züricher Opernhauses. Nina Stemme, Malin Hartelius m.fl. Zürich. Dir. Franz Welser-Möst. EMI. DVD
- Leonora in Verdi's La forza del destino. Chor und Orchestra der Wiener Staatsoper, dir. Zubin Mehta. Unitel classics (PROFIL 708108). DVD.
- Victoria and She/soprano in Ingvar Lidholm, A Dream Play (Swedish: Ett drömspel) : opera with prelude and two acts. With Håkan Hagegård. Caprice CAP 22029:1-2. (2 CD)
- Isolde in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, live 2012-03-27. Dir. Marek Janowski. PentatoneClassics PTC 5186404.
- Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhäuser. Dir. Marek Janowski. PentatoneClassics PTC 5186405
- Minnie in Puccini's La fanciulla del West. DVD. Dir. Pier Giorgio Morandi. Royal Opera Stockholm. Euroarts Unitel Classica
- Brünnhilde in Wagner's Die Walküre. Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Kampe, René Pape. Mariinsky Orchestra, dir. Valery Gergiev. MARO527
- Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre. Dir. Franz Welser-Möst. Wiener Staatsoper 2 December 2007. Orfeo C875 131B
- Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder. Swedish Chamber Orchestra. Dir. Thomas Dausgaard. BIS 2022
- Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder; Nystroem's Songs by the sea; De Boeck's Seven French songs. Jozef De Beenhouwer, piano. In Flanders' Fields, vol. 40. Phaedra 92040
- Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder. Salzburg Festival, dir Mariss Jansons. DVD Euroarts.
- Swedish genealogical CD disk that can be acquired at http://www.genealogi.se/wiki/index.php/Sveriges_befolkning_1970
- "Nina Stemme, opera’s reigning dramatic soprano weighs in on Wagner for his birthday". EmergingPictures. 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- Michael Kimmelman (2010-12-11). "In Italy, a Political Opera About Opera"". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "En vanlig stjärna" (in Swedish). Svenska Dagbladet. 2013-02-18. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "A Drama Queen With Her Head On Straight". The New York Times. 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Swedish soprano best in the world". Nordstjernan. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Winners 1993". Operalia. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 30 years". Sinfini Music. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Artist Biography by Blair Sanderson". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "KS Nina Stemme - Soprano". Artists Management Zurich. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Nina Stemme". Wagneropera.net. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Tristan und Isolde". Glyndebourne. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Ordet: en passion i tre akter (2004)" (in Swedsih). Sven-David Sandström. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Aida – Nina Stemme (Opéra de Zurich)". Bel Air Media. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Nina Stemme - Soprano, Biography". InstantEncore. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Die Walküre". Teatro alla Scala. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
- McHugh, Dominic (September 13, 2009). "Nina Stemme on The Royal Opera's new production of Tristan und Isolde". MusicalCriticism.com. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
- "Nina Stemme i Notorious på GöteborgsOperan" (in Swedish). The Göteborg Opera. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Världens bästa operasångerska: Nina Stemme" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio. December 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Die «Sängerin des Jahres 2005»" (in German). Opernwelt. May 2007. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Svenska ledamöter" (in Swedish). Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Nya hovsångare och hovdansare" (in Swedish). Swedish Royal Court. 2006-05-03. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Medal presentations on 6 June 2008". The Royal Court. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Olivier Winners 2010". Olivier Awards. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "XXX Premio della critica musicale “Franco Abbiati"" (in Italian). Associazione Nazionale Critici Musicali. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Sängerin des Jahres" (in German). Opernwelt. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Nina Stemme Named 'Österreichische Kammersängerin'". BroadWay World. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Opera". Gramophone. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Nina Stemme bäst i världen" (in Swedish). Uppsala Nya Tidning. 2013-04-23. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- "Joyce DiDonato and David Hyde Pierce to Host Ninth Annual Opera News Awards". 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
- Official website
- Biography in Artistman site
- Royal Opera House Stockholm website
- New York Times review of Stemme in Tristan in Bayreuth (2006)
- Nina Stemme schedule at operabase.com