Christa Ludwig

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Christa Ludwig in 2015. KS Christa Ludwig, geboren am 16. März 1928 in Berlin, deutsche Opern- und Konzertsängerin (Mezzosopran) wurde zur Ehrenpräsidentin der Hilde Zadek Stiftung ernannt. (17122239712).jpg
Christa Ludwig in 2015.

Christa Ludwig (born 16 March 1928) is a retired German dramatic mezzo-soprano, distinguished for her performances of opera, Lieder, oratorio, and other major religious works like masses and passions, and solos contained in symphonic literature. Her career spanned from the late 1940s until the early 1990s. She is widely recognised as one of the most significant and distinguished singers of the 20th century, "with a voice of exquisite richness and, when needed breathtaking amplitude." [1]

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

A mezzo-soprano or mezzo (, ; Italian: [ˈmɛddzo soˈpraːno] meaning "half soprano") is a type of classical female singing voice whose vocal range lies between the soprano and the contralto voice types. The mezzo-soprano's vocal range usually extends from the A below middle C to the A two octaves above (i.e. A3–A5 in scientific pitch notation, where middle C = C4; 220–880 Hz). In the lower and upper extremes, some mezzo-sopranos may extend down to the F below middle C (F3, 175 Hz) and as high as "high C" (C6, 1047 Hz). The mezzo-soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, lyric, and dramatic mezzo-soprano.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Contents

Professional career

Ludwig was born in Berlin to a musical family; her father, Anton Ludwig, was a tenor and an operatic administrator, her mother, the mezzo-soprano Eugenie Besalla-Ludwig who sang at the Aachen Opera during Herbert von Karajan's period as conductor. Ludwig's first voice teacher was her mother.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,723,914 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which is, with 6,004,857 (2015) inhabitants and an area of 30,370 square km, Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Herbert von Karajan Austrian conductor

Herbert von Karajan was an Austrian conductor. He was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. Generally regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, he was a dominant figure in European classical music from the mid-1950s until his death. Part of the reason for this was the large number of recordings he made and their prominence during his lifetime. By one estimate he was the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records.

Ludwig made her debut in 1946 at the age of 18 as Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus at Frankfurt, where she sang until 1952. She was a member of the Darmstadt Opera from 1952 to 1954, then sang the 1954–1955 season at the Staatsoper Hannover. She joined the Vienna State Opera in 1955, where she became one of its principal artists and was appointed Kammersängerin in 1962 and performed with the company for more than thirty years. In 1954, Ludwig made her debut at the Salzburg Festival as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro , and appeared there regularly until 1981. Ludwig made her Bayreuth Festival debut as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde in 1966. In 1960, she performed as Adalgisa alongside Maria Callas as Norma, in Bellini's opera by the same title, for an EMI recording.

<i>Die Fledermaus</i> comic operetta in three acts by Johann Strauss II

Die Fledermaus is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée.

Frankfurt Place in Hesse, Germany

Frankfurt is a metropolis and the largest city of the German federal state of Hesse, and its 746,878 (2017) inhabitants make it the fifth-largest city of Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne. On the River Main, it forms a continuous conurbation with the neighbouring city of Offenbach am Main, and its urban area has a population of 2.3 million. The city is at the centre of the larger Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region, which has a population of 5.5 million and is Germany's second-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr Region. Since the enlargement of the European Union in 2013, the geographic centre of the EU is about 40 km (25 mi) to the east of Frankfurt's central business district. Like France and Franconia, the city is named after the Franks. Frankfurt is the largest city in the Rhine Franconian dialect area.

Staatsoper Hannover opera house and company in Hanover, Germany

Staatsoper Hannover is a German opera house and opera company in Hanover. Its season runs from September to June.

Ludwig made her American debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Dorabella in Così fan tutte in 1959. That same year, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and subsequently sang 121 performances in 15 different roles with the company until 1993. At the Metropolitan Opera, where she quickly became one of the audience's favourites, her repertoire included The Dyer's Wife in the Met's first performances of Die Frau ohne Schatten , the title role and later the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier , Klytemnestra in Elektra , Ortrud in Lohengrin , Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde , Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre , Waltraute in Götterdämmerung , Kundry in Parsifal , the title role in Fidelio , Didon in Les Troyens , Charlotte in Werther , and Amneris in Aida . She first appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1969 as Amneris in Aida .

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Lyric Opera of Chicago non-profit organisation in the USA

Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. It was founded in Chicago in 1954, under the name 'Lyric Theatre of Chicago' by Carol Fox, Nicolà Rescigno and Lawrence Kelly, with a season that included Maria Callas's American debut in Norma. The company was re-organized by Fox in 1956 under its present name and, after her 1981 departure, it has continued to be of one of the major opera companies in the United States. The Lyric is housed in the Civic Opera Building, which the company now owns.

<i>Così fan tutte</i> Italian language opera buffa by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti, K. 588, is an Italian-language opera buffa in two acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed on 26 January 1790 at the Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte who also wrote Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni.

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 Don Carlo which she sang at La Scala in Milan, in Salzburg and in Vienna, the title-role in Carmen, Ulrica ( Un ballo in maschera ), Monteverdi's Octavia ( L'incoronazione di Poppea ), Dido ( Les Troyens ), Kundry ( Parsifal ), Klytemnestra ( Elektra ) and contemporary roles by von Einem and Orff. She also ventured briefly into the spinto and dramatic soprano repertory with performances of Verdi's Lady Macbeth ( Macbeth ), Strauss's Dyer's Wife ( Die Frau ohne Schatten ), the Marschallin ( Der Rosenkavalier ) and Beethoven's Leonore ( Fidelio ) .

Spinto is a vocal term used to characterize a soprano or tenor voice of a weight between lyric and dramatic that is capable of handling large musical climaxes in opera at moderate intervals.

La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy

La Scala is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala. The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta.

<i>Carmen</i> opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet

Carmen is an opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked and scandalized its first audiences.

In addition to her opera performances, Ludwig regularly gave recitals of Lieder (together with the German pianist Sebastian Peschko and on occasion, Leonard Bernstein) and as a soloist with orchestras. Her performances of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Mahler and Strauss are much admired. She also sang Bach and performed and recorded most of his major vocal works.

Lied musical form

The lied is a term in the German vernacular to describe setting poetry to classical music to create a piece of polyphonic music. The term is used for songs from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth centuries or even to refer to Minnesang from as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. It later came especially to refer to settings of Romantic poetry during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and into the early twentieth century. Examples include settings by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf or Richard Strauss. Among English speakers, however, "lied" is often used interchangeably with "art song" to encompass works that the tradition has inspired in other languages. The poems that have been made into lieder often center on pastoral themes or themes of romantic love.

Sebastian Peschko German classical pianist, accompanist

Sebastian Peschko was a German classical pianist specialised in the art form of lieder and as such was partner to some of the foremost lyrical singers of the 20th century.

Leonard Bernstein American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist

Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the US to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history."

From 1957 to 1970, Ludwig was married to the bass-baritone Walter Berry; the couple performed together frequently, notably in Die Frau ohne Schatten . In 1972, she married the French theater actor Paul-Emile Deiber.

In 1993–1994, Ludwig gave a series of farewell recitals in many cities and made her farewell appearance at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, as Fricka in Die Walküre .

Ludwig's final live operatic performance was Klytemnestra in Elektra for the Vienna State Opera in 1994.

The same year, Ludwig published a memoir with Peter Csobádi. [2] Two English translations of the book are available.

Ludwig has been teaching Master Classes since her retirement.

Quote

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. - In My Own Voice (p.119) translated by Regina Domeraski

Decorations and awards

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References

  1. Ted Libbey. The NPR Listener's Encyclopedia of Classical Music New York: Workman Publishing, 2006 p. 437
  2. Ludwig, Christa; Csobádi, Peter (1994). ...und ich wäre so gern Primadonna gewesen: Erinnerungen. Berlin : Henschel. ISBN   978-3-89487-191-8.
  3. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 1788. Retrieved 29 January 2013.