Hildegard Behrens

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Hildegard Behrens (9 February 1937 – 18 August 2009) was a German soprano with a wide repertoire including Wagner, Weber, Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Alban Berg roles.

A soprano[soˈpraːno] is a type of classical female singing voice and has the highest vocal range of all voice types. The soprano's vocal range (using scientific pitch notation) is from approximately middle C (C4) = 261 Hz to "high A" (A5) =880 Hz in choral music, or to "soprano C" (C6, two octaves above middle C) =1046 Hz or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which often encompasses the melody. The soprano voice type is generally divided into the coloratura, soubrette, lyric, spinto, and dramatic soprano.

Richard Wagner German composer

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Carl Maria von Weber German composer

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, and was one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school.

Contents

Biography

Behrens was born in Varel, Germany in 1937 and was graduated from the University of Freiburg as a junior barrister before becoming serious about her talents as a singer, studying at first with Ines Leuwen at the Freiburg Academy Of Music. Her debut was as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro in Freiburg in 1971 [1] and the following year she became a member of the Deutsche Oper. On 15 October 1976 she made her American debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as Giorgetta in Il tabarro .

Varel Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Varel is a town in the district of Friesland, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated near the Jade River and the Jade Bight, approximately 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Wilhelmshaven and 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of Oldenburg.

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.

University of Freiburg Public research university in Freiburg, Germany

The University of Freiburg, officially the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, is a public research university located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The university was founded in 1457 by the Habsburg dynasty as the second university in Austrian-Habsburg territory after the University of Vienna. Today, Freiburg is the fifth-oldest university in Germany, with a long tradition of teaching the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The university is made up of 11 faculties and attracts students from across Germany as well as from over 120 other countries. Foreign students constitute about 16% of total student numbers.

She began her musical career singing small roles at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf where she stayed for six years during which she graduated into bigger roles. Then in the 1975–76 season, while rehearsing Wozzeck , she was "discovered" by Herbert von Karajan, who was then looking for his new Salome. She was summoned to Berlin to audition for the role. Karajan liked what he heard and invited her to portray the role at the 1977 Salzburg Festival.

<i>Wozzeck</i> opera by Alban Berg

Wozzeck is the first opera by the Austrian composer Alban Berg. It was composed between 1914 and 1922 and first performed in 1925. The opera is based on the drama Woyzeck, which was left incomplete by the German playwright Georg Büchner at his death. Berg attended the first production in Vienna of Büchner's play on 5 May 1914, and knew at once that he wanted to base an opera on it. From the fragments of unordered scenes left by Büchner, Berg selected fifteen to form a compact structure of three acts with five scenes each. He adapted the libretto himself, retaining "the essential character of the play, with its many short scenes, its abrupt and sometimes brutal language, and its stark, if haunted, realism..."

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.

<i>Salome</i> (opera) opera by Richard Strauss

Salome, Op. 54, is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss. The libretto is Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde, edited by the composer. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer.

Behrens was the recipient of many awards - among them the highest civilian honors given by the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz or Order of the Merit Cross of the Federal Republic) and by the state of Bavaria (the Bayerischer Verdienstorden), and the titles of Bayerische Kammersängerin and Österreichische Kammersängerin bestowed by the Bavarian State Opera and the Vienna State Opera respectively. In 1998, she received Denmark's most prestigious Leonie Sonning Music Prize and in 1999 the Vienna State Opera honored her with the Lotte Lehmann Ring, bequeathed to her by the late dramatic soprano Leonie Rysanek.

Leonie Rysanek singer

Leopoldine "Leonie" Rysanek was an Austrian dramatic soprano.

She sang the role of Brünhilde in the PBS broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's performance of The Ring of the Nibelung , for the largest viewing audience in history.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Hildegard Behrens died of a sudden aortic aneurysm, aged 72, in hospital in Tokyo, Japan, where she had been attending the Kusatsu International Summer Music Fest. [2] [3]

Aortic aneurysm orta to greater than 1.5 times normal size.

An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement (dilatation) of the aorta to greater than 1.5 times normal size. They usually cause no symptoms except when ruptured. Occasionally, there may be abdominal, back, or leg pain.

Awards

Performances on video

Available on DVD:

Notes

Sources

Further reading

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