Christa Ludwig

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Christa Ludwig
KS Christa Ludwig, geboren am 16. März 1928 in Berlin, deutsche Opern- und Konzertsängerin (Mezzosopran) wurde zur Ehrenpräsidentin der Hilde Zadek Stiftung ernannt. (17122239712) (cropped).jpg
Christa Ludwig in 2015
Born(1928-03-16)16 March 1928
Berlin, Germany
Died24 April 2021(2021-04-24) (aged 93)
Occupation
Organization
TitleKammersängerin
Spouse(s)
(m. 1957; div. 1970)
Paul-Emile Deiber
(m. 1972; died 2011)

Christa Ludwig (16 March 1928 – 24 April 2021) was a German mezzo-soprano and occasional dramatic soprano, distinguished for her performances of opera, lieder, oratorio, and other major religious works like masses, passions, and solos in symphonic literature. Her performing career spanned almost half a century, from the late 1940s until the early 1990s.[1]

She sang at many international opera houses and festivals, including at the Vienna State Opera from 1955 to 1994, and at the Metropolitan Opera in many roles. She is remembered for roles such as Mozart's Dorabella, Beethoven's Leonore in Fidelio, Wagner's Kundry, and both Octavian and the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.[2] In Vienna, she created the title role of Gottfried von Einem's Der Besuch der alten Dame in 1971.

She is widely recognised as having been one of the most significant and distinguished singers of the 20th century. The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music (2006) stated "Ludwig possessed a voice of exquisite richness and, when needed, breathtaking amplitude. She had the ability to impart dramatic urgency to a performance, the hallmark of a great singer."[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Ludwig was born in Berlin to a musical family. Her father, Anton Ludwig, who began his singing career as a baritone and later moved into the tenor repertory, was also an opera administrator,[4] and her mother, Eugenie Besalla-Ludwig, was a mezzo-soprano who sang at the Aachen Opera during Herbert von Karajan's period as conductor.[5][6] Ludwig grew up in Aachen, where her first voice teacher was her mother. At age eight, she sang an aria of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute.[7]

At the Aachen Conservatory, she studied piano, cello, flute and music theory.[7] The family moved to Hanau[7] when their home was bombed in 1944.[5] She studied voice at the Musikhochschule Frankfurt.[4]

Career[edit]

Ludwig made her stage debut in 1946 at the age of 18 as Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss at the Oper Frankfurt,[6] where she sang until 1952. She was a member of the Staatstheater Darmstadt from 1952 to 1954, then sang for the 1954/55 season at the Staatsoper Hannover. She joined the Vienna State Opera in 1955, where she became one of its principal artists[4] and was awarded the title Kammersängerin in 1962. She performed with the company for more than thirty years in 43 opera roles and 769 performances.[8] In 1954, she made her debut at the Salzburg Festival as Cherubino in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro,[4] conducted by Karl Böhm,[2] and appeared there regularly until 1981.[8][9] At the Vienna State Opera, she created the title role of Gottfried von Einem's Der Besuch der alten Dame on 23 May 1971, conducted by Horst Stein and alongside Eberhard Wächter as her lover Ill.[4][10] The performance was recorded by Deutsche Grammophon, and reissued on CD by Amadeo and later Orfeo.[11]

She first performed in the U.S. at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte in 1959. The same year, she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera (Met) in New York City as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. Louis Biancolli wrote in his review for the World Telegram and Sun:

... the new Cherubino – Berlin-born Christa Ludwig, a leading mezzo at Darmstadt, Salzburg and Vienna since her debut as Prince Orlofsky in "Fledermaus" in 1946. She is a valuable acquisition. Gifted with a bright, warm voice; Miss Ludwig was a lively and believable Cherubino. Her singing was precise and even, each tone clear and true, and her Italian rippled along like a second music. The ovation was fully deserved.[12]

She subsequently sang 121 performances in 15 roles with the Met, where she quickly became one of the audience's favourites. Her next role, again in trousers, was Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss, in a live broadcast conducted by Leinsdorf, with Lisa della Casa as the Marschallin, Elisabeth Söderström as Sophie, and Oskar Czerwenka in his Met debut as Ochs.[13] Her repertoire there also included The Dyer's Wife in the Met's first performances of Die Frau ohne Schatten by Richard Strauss, then (in 1968) the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Klytemnestra in Elektra, Ortrud in Wagner's Lohengrin, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, Kundry in Parsifal, the title role in Beethoven's Fidelio, Didon in Les Troyens by Berlioz, Charlotte in Massenet's Werther, and Amneris in Verdi's Aida.[4][14] In 1960, she performed as Adalgisa alongside Maria Callas as Bellini's Norma for an EMI recording. She appeared at the Bayreuth Festival first as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde in 1966.[4] She first appeared at the Royal Opera House in London in 1968 as Amneris in Verdi's Aida.[9]

As Ludwig's voice matured, she expanded her repertoire from lyric and spinto mezzo-roles to dramatic roles. Her vast repertory eventually grew to encompass Princess Eboli in Verdi's Don Carlo which she sang at La Scala in Milan, in Salzburg and in Vienna, the title role in Bizet's Carmen, Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Octavia in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, and contemporary roles by von Einem and Orff. She also ventured briefly into the spinto and dramatic soprano repertoire with performances as Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth, the Dyer's Wife, the Marschallin and Leonore in Fidelio.[4][7]

In addition to her opera performances, Ludwig regularly gave recitals of lieder, with pianists including Sebastian Peschko, Gerald Moore, Geoffrey Parsons[9] and on occasion Leonard Bernstein.[15][16] She performed as a soloist with orchestras, including works by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Mahler and Strauss.[9][17] She was one of few women to tackle and record Schubert's Winterreise.[9] She also sang Bach's music and recorded many of his large vocal works,[9][17] such as the St Matthew Passion conducted by Otto Klemperer in 1961, with Peter Pears as the Evangelist and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the voice of Christ,[18] and the Mass in B minor the same year, Karajan's third recording of the work, with Leontyne Price, Nicolai Gedda, Gérard Souzay and her husband Walter Berry.[19] She recorded Bach's Christmas Oratorio conducted by Karl Richter in 1965, with Gundula Janowitz, Fritz Wunderlich and Franz Crass.[20] She performed Mahler's Second Symphony with Bernstein in 1967.[5] From September 1973 to January 1974, she took part in Karajan's fourth recording of Bach's Mass in B minor, with Janowitz, Peter Schreier, Robert Kerns and Karl Ridderbusch.[19]

In 1993 and 1994, she gave a series of farewell recitals in many cities;[7] her last appearance at the Metropolitan Opera was as Fricka in Die Walküre.[21] Her final live operatic performance was as Klytemnestra in Elektra for the Vienna State Opera in December 1994.[5][8]

Personal life[edit]

In times where personalities are thinly sown, we have first class, yes excellent, musical practitioners, who lack intuition, imagination, and a feeling for composers, who, even though they lived in the past, can speak to us about today. Courage is needed to reveal one's own feelings in interpretation and not tell the audience with raised forefinger: "The composer wanted it like this, and no other way." But at the same time we singers must never forget that we are only the servants of the great minds who created all the wonderful pieces of music we enjoy today.

—Christa Ludwig, In My Own Voice: Memoirs (1999), p. 119. (translated by Regina Domeraski)

From 1957 to 1970, Ludwig was married to the bass-baritone Walter Berry;[2] they had a son.[9] The couple performed together frequently, notably as the Dyer and his wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten. In 1972, she married the French theatre actor Paul-Emile Deiber, who died in 2011.[9]

Ludwig's first memoir, Und ich wäre so gern Primadonna gewesen ("And I would gladly have been a primadonna"), was published in 1994;[22] an English translation by Regina Domeraski titled In My Own Voice was published in 1999.[23][24][25] Her second memoir, 'Leicht muss man sein': Erinnerungen an die Zukunft ("'One must be lighter': memories of the future"), as told to Erna Cuesta and Franz Zoglauer, was published in 2018.[26]

Ludwig died at her home in Klosterneuburg, Austria in April 2021, at the age of 93.[2][7][27][28]

Decorations and awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Complete Recitals on Warner Classics | Warner Classics". www.warnerclassics.com.
  2. ^ a b c d "German opera star Christa Ludwig dies at the age of 93". BBC. 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  3. ^ Libbey, Theodore (2006). The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music. Workman Publishing Company. p. 437. ISBN 978-0-7611-2072-8.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Kutsch, K. J.; Riemens, Leo (2012). Ludwig, Christa. Großes Sängerlexikon (in German) (4th ed.). De Gruyter. pp. 2808–2809. ISBN 978-3-59-844088-5.
  5. ^ a b c d Everson, Stephen (19 March 2004). ""Opera is absurd, no?"". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  6. ^ a b Spinola, Julia (25 April 2021). "Die grandiose Opernsängerin Christa Ludwig ist tot". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "1928–2021: Opernlegende Christa Ludwig verstorben". Wiener Zeitung (in German). 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "Vorstellungen mit Christa Ludwig". Spielplanarchiv der Wiener Staatsoper (in German). Vienna State Opera. 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "Christa Ludwig, operatic mezzo-soprano with a vast repertoire who never took herself too seriously – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  10. ^ Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "Der Besuch der alten Dame, 23 May 1971". L'Almanacco di Gherardo Casaglia (in Italian).
  11. ^ Ashman, Mike (June 2018). "Einem / Der Besuch der alten Dame". Gramophone. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  12. ^ Biancolli, Louis. "Le Nozze di Figaro {175} Metropolitan Opera House: 12 October 1959". archives.metoperafamily.org. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Der Rosenkavalier {177} Matinee Broadcast ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 26 December 1959., Broadcast". archives.metoperafamily.org. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Performances with Christa Ludwig". archives.metoperafamily.org. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Klavierpartner als Meister der leisen Töne". CZ – Cellesche Zeitung (in German). 13 June 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Christa Ludwig – Präzision, Tiefe, Schönklang". RONDO (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  17. ^ a b "Grosse Christa Ludwig". Opera Lounge (in German). 22 March 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 Conducted by Otto Klemperer". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  19. ^ a b "Mass in B minor BWV 232 / Conducted by Herbert von Karajan". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  20. ^ "Weihnachts-Oratorium BWV 248 / Conducted by Karl Richter". Bach Cantatas Website. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Christa Ludwig". Metropolitan Opera. 21 April 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  22. ^ Ludwig, Christa (4 July 1994). "... und ich wäre so gern Primadonna gewesen: Erinnerungen". Henschel – via Open WorldCat.
  23. ^ Ludwig, Christa (1999). In My Own Voice: Memoirs. Limelight. ISBN 978-0-87910-281-4.
  24. ^ In my own voice: Memoirs. Limelight Editions. 1999. ISBN 978-0-87910-281-4.
  25. ^ In my own voice : Memoirs. Limelight Editions. 1999. ISBN 978-0-87910-281-4.
  26. ^ Ivry, Benjamin. "ONE MUST BE LIGHTER: MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE German originial: Leicht muss man sein: Erinnerungen an die Zukunft — As told to Erna Cuesta and Franz Zoglauer". Classical Music Reviews.
  27. ^ "Die Sopranistin Christa Ludwig ist tot – Klassik". Badische Zeitung (in German). 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  28. ^ Presse, AFP-Agence France. "Renowned Opera Singer Christa Ludwig Dies Aged 93". www.barrons.com.
  29. ^ a b c d e f "Opernstar Christa Ludwig gestorben". noe.ORF.at (in German). 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  30. ^ a b "Ludwig, Christa". Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon (in German). 6 May 2001. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  31. ^ "Mezzosopranistin Christa Ludwig (93) gestorben". MUSIK HEUTE (in German). 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  32. ^ "IV. Hugo-Wolf-Wettbewerb". musikverein.wien (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  33. ^ "Christa Ludwig". Biografie WHO'S WHO (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  34. ^ "Mezzosopranistin Christa Ludwig ist tot – 25.04.2021". DW.COM (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  35. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 1788. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  36. ^ "Midem-Veranstalter ehren Christa Ludwig". MusikWoche (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  37. ^ "Christa Ludwig wird 80 – neue musikzeitung". neue musikzeitung (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  38. ^ "1928–2021 Kammersängerin Christa Ludwig gestorben". DER STANDARD (in German). 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  39. ^ "Kammersängerin Christa Ludwig erhält Hugo-Wolf-Medaille – neue musikzeitung". nmz (in German). Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  40. ^ "Christa Ludwig wins Gramophone's Lifetime Achievement Award". Gramophone. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  41. ^ Opus Klassik Awards 2018 by Chris O'Reilly prestomusic.com
  42. ^ "Opernsängerin Christa Ludwig im Alter von 93 Jahren gestorben – neue musikzeitung". neue musikzeitung (in German). dpa. Retrieved 26 April 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]