Anja Silja

Last updated
Anja Silja
Anja Silja Buhnenausgang Hamburger Staatsoper 1968.jpg
Anja Silja in 1968
Born (1940-04-17) April 17, 1940 (age 79)
OccupationOpera singer (soprano)
Years active1956–present

Anja Silja Regina Langwagen (pronounced [ˈanja ˈzɪlja] , born April 17, 1940 [1] in Berlin) is a German soprano who is known for her great abilities as a singing-actress and for the vastness of her repertoire.

Contents

Biography

Silja began her operatic career at a very early age, with her grandfather, Egon Friedrich Maria Anders van Rijn, as her voice teacher. She sang Rosina in Rossini's The Barber of Seville at Braunschweig in 1956, following this with Micaëla in Carmen and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos .

The important part of her career began in 1959, when she sang the Queen of Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Vienna State Opera (under Karl Böhm) and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. France-Soir dubbed her "a second Callas." Other early roles included Leonora in Il trovatore, Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, the four heroines of Les contes d'Hoffmann, Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, [2] and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte .

She made her debut in 1960 at the Bayreuth Festival, as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer. At Bayreuth (until 1967), she also sang Elsa von Brabant in Lohengrin (opposite Astrid Varnay), Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Eva in Die Meistersinger, Venus in Tannhäuser, Freia in Das Rheingold, the Waldvogel in Siegfried , etc. Outside Bayreuth, the soprano appeared in Wieland Wagner's productions of Salome , Tristan und Isolde , Die Walküre and Siegfried (as Brünnhilde), Elektra , Fidelio , Otello , Lulu , Wozzeck (conducted by Pierre Boulez), and other operas. Of her Salome, Harold Rosenthal wrote in Opera, in 1968:

Anja Silja's performance was a tour-de-force. Her voice is not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but it is clearly projected, and every phrase carries its overtones—psychological not musical—which suggest the child-like degenerate, over-sexed princess in all too clear a manner. Her nervous, almost thin body is never still; she rolls on her stomach and on her back; she crawls, she slithers, she leaps, she kneels…. There is no denying that this is one of the great performances of our time.

Additional new roles in the 1960s were Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Ariadne, Jenny Smith (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Violetta Valéry (La traviata), Turandot (first Liù, then the title role), Lucy (The Telephone), Cassandre (Les troyens, opposite Jon Vickers) and Renata in The Fiery Angel. She was seen in Frankfurt, Toulouse, Paris, Turin, Naples, Stuttgart, Zurich, Barcelona, Geneva, the Netherlands, Budapest, London (Royal Festival Hall, then Covent Garden), San Francisco (her American debut, in 1968, as Salome), and Chicago. That first Lady Macbeth, in 1967, was conducted by Christoph von Dohnányi, with whom she had a long relationship, including a marriage that produced three children. They divorced in the 1990s, during Dohnányi's tenure with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Silja continued her career with appearances at Trieste, the Edinburgh Festival, the Salzburg Festival, Barcelona, Metropolitan Opera (Fidelio and Salome, 1972), Paris (Erwartung, under Sir Georg Solti), Berlin, Cologne (La fanciulla del West), Vienna (world premiere of Einem's Kabale und Liebe) and Brussels. Other new roles in this period were Emilia Marty in The Makropoulos Case, [3] Leonora in La forza del destino, Médée, Die lustige Witwe, Carmen (staged by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle), La juive, Katya Kabanova, Tosca, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, and Die Königin von Saba (conducted by Julius Rudel).

In the 1980s, Silja added Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (opposite Chester Ludgin), La Cubana, Regan in Lear, Prinz Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (with Karita Mattila and Judith Blegen, staged by Maurice Béjart), the Kostelnička in Jenůfa (at the Glyndebourne Festival), [4] Grete in Der ferne Klang, and the Nurse in Die Frau ohne Schatten (opposite Dame Gwyneth Jones as Barak's Wife).

Silja made her debut as a stage director in 1990 at Brussels with Lohengrin. She then assumed the roles of Agave in The Bassarids (at Carnegie Hall), Ortrud in Lohengrin (in Robert Wilson's production), Herodias in Salome, Anna I in Die sieben Todsünden, Klytämnestra in Elektra, Jocasta in Œdipus rex (opposite René Kollo), Mother Marie of the Incarnation in Dialogues des Carmélites, Pierrot lunaire, Judith in Bluebeard's Castle, Countess Geschwitz in Lulu, Madame de Croissy in Dialogues des Carmélites (her Teatro alla Scala debut, under Riccardo Muti, 2004; three years later she sang in Jenůfa there), La voix humaine, Míla's Mother in Osud, the Comtesse in Pique-dame, and the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel. She was first heard in Cleveland, Boston, Madrid, Leipzig, Prague, and Rio de Janeiro in these recent seasons. Her 2001 recording of Jenůfa, from Covent Garden, won a Grammy Award.

Silja now resides in Paris, having purchased the former home of the conductor André Cluytens. [5] In January 2013, she sang the role of the Grandmother ("Babulenka") in The Gambler, in Frankfurt, in the production by Harry Kupfer, and, in 2017, she was the Narrator in Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder, in Hamburg, conducted by Kent Nagano.

Commercial discography

Commercial videography

Related Research Articles

Leonie Rysanek singer

Leopoldine Rysanek was an Austrian dramatic soprano.

Ibolyka Astrid Maria Varnay was a Swedish-born American dramatic soprano of Hungarian descent. She spent most of her career in the United States and Germany. She was one of the leading Wagnerian heroic sopranos of her generation. Her voice on record is readily recognisable by its fiery tone and seemingly limitless upper register.

Ramón Vinay Chilean opera singer

Ramón Vinay was a famous Chilean operatic tenor with a powerful, dramatic voice. He is probably best remembered for his appearances in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's tragic opera Otello.

Gwyneth Jones (soprano) Welsh operatic soprano

Dame Gwyneth Jones, is a Welsh operatic dramatic soprano, widely regarded as the greatest Wagnerian soprano that Britain has ever produced.

Wieland Wagner German opera director

Wieland Wagner was a German opera director, grandson of Richard Wagner. As co-director of the Bayreuth Festival when it re-opened after World War II, he was noted for innovative new stagings of the operas, departing from the naturalistic scenery and lighting of the originals. His wartime involvement in the development of the V-2 rocket was kept secret for many years.

Helga Dernesch is an Austrian soprano and mezzo-soprano. Her career has taken her through four successive phases: from mezzo-soprano to lyric soprano to dramatic soprano, and after about 1980 back to mezzo again. "Her voice had great richness and power, and her strikingly handsome stage appearance and intense acting made her a compelling performer."

Eberhard Waechter (baritone) Austrian baritone

Eberhard Freiherr von Waechter was an Austrian baritone celebrated for his performances in the operas of Mozart, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. After retiring from singing, he became intendant of the Vienna Volksoper and the Vienna State Opera.

Karan Armstrong American operatic soprano

Karan Armstrong is an American operatic soprano, who is celebrated as a singing-actress.

Ticho Parly was a Danish-born Heldentenor who sang leading roles in most of the major opera houses of Europe as well as the United States, including the Metropolitan Opera, where he debuted in 1966 as Tristan opposite Birgit Nilsson in Tristan und Isolde.

Dunja Vejzović is an acclaimed operatic soprano from Croatia.

A dramatic soprano is a type of operatic soprano with a powerful, rich, emotive voice that can sing over, or cut through, a full orchestra. Thicker vocal folds in dramatic voices usually (but not always) mean less agility than lighter voices but a sustained, fuller sound. Usually this voice has a lower tessitura than other sopranos, and a darker timbre. They are often used for heroic, often long-suffering, tragic women of opera. Dramatic sopranos have a range from approximately low A (A3) to "high C" (C6). Some dramatic sopranos, known as Wagnerian sopranos, have an exceptionally big voice that can assert itself over a large orchestra (of more than 80 or even 100 pieces). These voices are substantial, often denser in tone, extremely powerful and, ideally, evenly balanced throughout the vocal registers. Wagnerian sopranos usually play mythic heroines. Successful Wagnerian sopranos are rare and often Wagnerian roles are performed by Italianate dramatic sopranos.

Susan Owen is an American operatic soprano. Born in Salisbury, North Carolina, she earned a Bachelor of Music degree from East Carolina University in 1980 and a Master of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. In 1990 she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. From 1995-1999 she was a member of the Staatstheater Kassel, Intendant Michael Leinert. From 1999 - 2002 she was a member of the Staatstheater Darmstadt with Mark Albrecht.

Gary Lakes is an American opera heldentenor.

Janis Martin was an American opera singer who sang leading roles first as a mezzo-soprano and later as a soprano in opera houses throughout Europe and the United States. She was particularly known for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and sang at the Bayreuth Festival from 1968 to 1997.

Wolfgang Neumann is an Austrian internationally known operatic heldentenor, who specialized in the operas of Richard Wagner.

Carlos Alexander was a dramatic baritone and stage director of opera, best known as a singing-actor in German repertoire.

Gladys Kuchta was an American operatic soprano who sang leading roles in opera houses worldwide including the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, Bayreuth Festival, San Francisco Opera, and the Teatro Colón.

Gabriele Schnaut is a German classical singer who started her operatic career as a mezzo-soprano in 1976 and changed to dramatic soprano in 1985. She has appeared internationally and performed at the Bayreuth Festival from 1977 to 2000. She recorded works by composers of the 20th century and appeared in the premieres of operas by Wolfgang Rihm and Jörg Widmann.

Gerd Nienstedt was a German and Austrian opera singer, bass and bass-baritone. After an international career at major opera houses and the Bayreuth Festival, he was also a theatre director, stage director and academic voice teacher.

Evelyn Herlitzius is a German opera singer, a dramatic soprano. She is known for performing major roles in works by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, such as Brünnhilde, Isolde and Elektra, at the Semperoper, the Bayreuth Festival and leading European opera houses.

References

  1. Anthony Tommasini (February 13, 2007). "Bayreuth Star Goes on to Ovations in Her 60s". The New York Times . Retrieved February 18, 2007.
  2. "Frankfurt City Opera" (November 1963). The Musical Times , 104 (1449): pp. 798-802.
  3. Tim Ashley (June 22, 2001). "'If you've really loved once then life is over'". The Guardian . Retrieved February 18, 2007.
  4. Simeone, Nigel, "Opera and Concert Reports: Jenůfa/The Makropoulos Case" (July 1989). The Musical Times, 130 (1757): pp. 422-429.
  5. Michael White (September 27, 2001). "A femme fatale faces the music". Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 29, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2007.

Further reading

Bibliography