Birgit Nilsson, music, Royal Swedish Opera, opera singers


The first time I saw and heard Birgit Nilsson on the stage of the Royal Swedish Opera is now more than 60 years ago, the 16th of March 1958. I had started my career as a member of the opera audience in the autumn of 1957 with a holiday afternoon performance of Wagner’s Parsifal, in the first Swedish staging from 1917… Really I had wished to see a fairly recent production of Carmen, much talked about and broadcast in the then single channel of the Swedish Radio. But Parsifal neither made me fall asleep nor scared me off from further opera going. After experiencing Carmen, The Barber of Seville and The Magic Flute — all of them (like Parsifal in this period) performed in Swedish, I felt already felt like a connoisseur — it was time for a meeting with Sweden’s — and soon the world’s — reigning Isolde, Birgit Nilsson. The March ‘58 performances of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde were the first time the Stockholm audience could meet her Isolde again after her first Bayreuth stint in the part in the summer of 1957.

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