Malena Ernman

Last updated

Malena Ernman
Malena Ernman April 2012.png
Ernman in 2012
Sara Magdalena Ernman

(1970-11-04) 4 November 1970 (age 50)
Uppsala, Sweden
Spouse(s)Svante Thunberg
Children2, including Greta Thunberg
Relatives Olof Thunberg (father-in-law)
Musical career
Years active1998–present
  • Bis
  • Sony
  • Opus Arte
  • Roxy Recordings Stockholm

Sara Magdalena Ernman (born 4 November 1970) is a Swedish opera singer. Besides operas and operettas, she has also performed chansons, cabaret, jazz, and appeared in musicals. She is a member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Ernman represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow.


Life and career

Ernman performing at Skansen in Stockholm during the Swedish National Day in June 2016 Sveriges nationaldag 3518 (27446746831).jpg
Ernman performing at Skansen in Stockholm during the Swedish National Day in June 2016

Early life

Ernman was born in Uppsala, Sweden, spent her childhood and school years in Sandviken, and was educated at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, the Music Conservatory in Orléans, France, and the school of the Royal Swedish Opera. [1] She is married to actor Svante Thunberg and together they have two daughters: singer Beata Ernman [2] and climate activist Greta Thunberg. [3]


In 1997, Ernman sang in the premiere of Ivar Hallström's 1897 opera Liten Karin in Vadstena; Opera magazine noted that "the mezzo Malena Ernman was very expressive as Princess Cecilia, King Erik XIV's sister". [4] In 1998, her Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Royal Opera in Stockholm was described as "displaying impressive technique" and "shaping the character with mocking good humour". [5] The same year, she sang Kaja in the premiere of Sven-David Sandström's Staden under Leif Segerstam also at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, where one reviewer commented that "in vocal focus and expression, her full, rich voice is not that far behind Bartoli". [6] In July 1999, Ernman sang the trouser role of Ziöberg in the premiere of Jonas Forssell's Trädgården (The Garden) at the Drottningholm Palace Theatre in Stockholm, conducted by Roy Goodman, the first new opera to be premiered at the theatre in modern times. [7]

In Brussels in 2000, her Nerone in Handel's Agrippina , alongside Rosemary Joshua's Poppea and Anna Caterina Antonacci's Aggripina was described as "the most convincingly brattish young man imaginable". [8] In 2013, she returned to this role at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona in a production by David McVicar conducted by Harry Bicket. [9]

Ernman has sung several major roles with the Staatsoper Berlin, including Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro and Zerlina in Don Giovanni , both under conductor Daniel Barenboim. She also performed Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Staatsoper Berlin and the Finnish National Opera. With the Royal Opera Stockholm she has also sung the title role in Carmen . [10]

Ernman worked with conductor René Jacobs in the roles of Nerone in Agrippina , Roberto in Scarlatti's Griselda and Diana in Cavalli's La Calisto . [10]

In 2001, she sang Sesto in Handel's Giulio Cesare at the Drottningholm Festival. She appeared at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2002 singing Nancy in Albert Herring [11] and in 2003 singing Prince Orlovsky in Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus , which was also performed and broadcast at the BBC Proms that year. [12] During the 2003/2004 season Ernman sang Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at La Monnaie in Brussels. At the Aix-en-Provence Festival that year, she performed as Lichas in Hercules with Les Arts Florissants under conductor William Christie, a role that was later revived at the Paris Opera and the Vienna Festival. During the spring and summer of 2005, she performed the title role in Philippe Boesmans's Julie at la Monnaie, the Vienna Festival and Aix-en-Provence. In spring of 2006 she sang the title role of Dido and Aeneas with William Christie at the Vienna Festival. [13]

In 2006, Ernman made her debut at the Salzburg Festival as Annio in La clemenza di Tito under conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt. In 2007, her roles included Sesto in Giulio Cesare with René Jacobs in Vienna, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with Daniel Harding in Aix-en-Provence, and Nerone in L'incoronazione di Poppea in Amsterdam. In 2008 she sang Angelina in La Cenerentola with the Royal Swedish Opera and Dido and Aeneas with Christie and the Opéra-Comique in Paris. In 2009 she reprised Angelina in La Cenerentola with Oper Frankfurt and the Swedish Royal Opera, and Dido in Dido and Aeneas with Christie in Vienna and Amsterdam. In 2010, she sang the castrato role of Idamante in Idomeneo under Jérémie Rhorer at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where her "feisty" portrayal of the prince was "as if to the gender born, her efforts rewarded by the inclusion of the usually cut aria 'No, la morte'. [14] Vienna saw her in the title role of Serse by Handel in October 2011 at the Theater an der Wien, [15] and the following season she sang Eduige in the Nicolas Harnoncourt-led production of Handel's Rodelinda at the same house, later released on DVD. Back in the city as Elena in La donna del lago in August 2012, she was "impressive... dealing with the vocal difficulties with aplomb and managing the extra dramatic demands made on her with genuine expressivity". [16] She added Béatrice to her repertoire in 2013 in performances at Theater an der Wien of Berlioz's late opéra-comique. [17]

She sang Gabriella in the Swedish musical Så som i himmelen, based on a 2004 film of the same name, with words by Kay Pollak and Carin Pollak and the score by Fredrik Kempe, which premiered at the Oscarsteatern in September 2018. [18]


Early recitals on Swedish Radio included Rachmaninov in 1994, The airconditioned nightmare by Olov Olofsson, songs by Gunnar de Frumerie, and an eclectic mix of Fauré, Debussy, Jolivet, Ravel, Bizet, Barber, Ives and Lehrer in 1996, Brahms lieder, and works by Carlid, Mahler and Berio in 1998. [19] Ernman has performed several concert pieces as well. At the Salzburg Festival she sang Mozart's "Waisenhausmesse" with conductor Frans Brüggen. She performed Berio's "Folksongs" with the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Carlo Rizzi, and at the Verbier Festival with Gustavo Dudamel. She sang the world premiere of "Nachtgesänge" by Fabian Müller with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra. In Minneapolis she sang Mozart's "Requiem" with Arnold Östman. [10]

2009 Melodifestivalen and Eurovision

On 28 November 2008, it was announced that Ernman would enter Melodifestivalen 2009 for the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 with the song "La voix," written by Fredrik Kempe. On 28 February 2009, Ernman competed in the 4th semi-final of Melodifestivalen in Malmö and became a finalist. [20] She went on to win the final on 14 March at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, and to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. She qualified as a finalist on 12 May and performed in the finals on 16 May, where she finished 21st with 33 points. [21] "La voix" was the first Swedish entry to contain a substantial amount of French lyrics; it was written by Ernman herself, who speaks French fluently. [21]

Ernman revealed that the dress for her Eurovision performance cost 400,000 kronor (37,471) and was made by designer Camilla Thulin. [22] Singer Dea Norberg joined Ernman as one of the choirgirls. Ernman later participated in the Second Chance round of Melodifestivalen 2015 as a guest singer for Behrang Miris entry. [23]

Personal life

Ernman is married to Swedish actor Svante Thunberg. [24] Their daughter Greta Thunberg rose to worldwide prominence when she initiated the school strike for climate. [25] In August 2014, 11-year-old Greta suddenly stopped eating, talking, reading, or wanting to do anything. This condition lasted for several months until she was finally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. The acute period of her daughter's condition affected Ernman and her family to such an extent that she had three breakdowns during her professional activity and five performances had to be cancelled. After the crisis was overcome, she turned to the nationwide daily newspaper Expressen , which reported it in detail, because she wanted to help other families in a similar situation. [26]

Ernman has been politically active in support of the Paris Agreement against climate change; she wrote a collaborative debate piece in Dagens Nyheter . [27] With her husband she co-wrote the book Scener ur hjärtat ( Scenes from the Heart ) about her family, the environment, and sustainability. [28]







See also

Related Research Articles

Yvonne Kenny AM is an Australian soprano, particularly associated with Handel and Mozart roles.

Charlotte Perrelli Musical artist

Anna Jenny Charlotte Perrelli is a Swedish singer and television host. She was the winner of the 1999 Melodifestivalen and subsequently that year's Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Take Me to Your Heaven."

Kerstin Meyer Swedish opera singer

Kerstin Margareta Meyer, CBE was a Swedish mezzo-soprano who enjoyed an international career in opera and concert. A long-time member of the Royal Swedish Opera and Hamburg State Opera, she appeared regularly at the Royal Opera House in London and international opera houses and festivals, including in world premieres such as Alexander Goehr's Arden Must Die and György Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre.

Gösta Winbergh was a Swedish tenor.

Fredrik Kempe

Fredrik Kempe is a Swedish songwriter and opera and pop singer, who was born in Vårgårda. He has participated in Swedish versions of the musicals Les Misérables and Chess. In 2002, Kempe had a hit with Vincerò, where he mixed opera and Euro disco. He was a jury member in Idol 2016 which was broadcast on TV4.

Sarah Connolly English mezzo-soprano

Dame Sarah Patricia Connolly is an English mezzo-soprano. Although best known for her baroque and classical roles, Connolly has a wide-ranging repertoire which has included works by Wagner as well as various 20th-century composers. She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to music.

Amel Brahim-Djelloul Musical artist

Amel Brahim-Djelloul is a soprano opera singer and concert recitalist. She is Algerian with Berber origins.

Dorothea Röschmann is a German soprano. She is famous for her performances in operas by Mozart as well as Lieder.

Joyce DiDonato American mezzo-soprano

Joyce DiDonato is an American lyric-coloratura mezzo-soprano. She is notable for her interpretations of operas and concert works in the 19th-century romantic era in addition to works by Handel and Mozart.

Melodifestivalen 2009

Melodifestivalen 2009 was a Swedish song contest held between February and March 2009. It was the selection for the 49th song to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest, and was the 48th edition of Melodifestivalen. Five semi-finals were held in the Swedish cities of Gothenburg, Skellefteå, Leksand and Malmö, with Norrköping hosting the final Andra Chansen round.

Sweden entered the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 with "La voix", performed by Malena Ernman. Ernman was the winner of the Swedish song contest Melodifestivalen, which serves as Sweden's selection process for Eurovision.

La voix (song)

"La voix" is a song by Swedish singer Malena Ernman, and was the Swedish entry at the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Moscow, Russia. It was composed by Fredrik Kempe, with lyrics by both Kempe and Ernman. It is the first Swedish entry to contain lyrics in French, as well as being the last Swedish entry to have contained lyrics in another language than English. Despite the fact France's Patricia Kaas already did a relatively good placing in the Grand Final, Malena did a significant improvement to the Francophone culture in the semi final, as well in the grand final despite her relatively worse placing.

Hjördis Schymberg

Hjördis Gunborg Schymberg was a Swedish coloratura and lyric soprano active on the opera stage and in concert halls between 1934 and 1968. One of the leading singers of the Royal Swedish Opera, she was awarded the title of Hovsångerska in 1943, and in her later years became a distinguished voice teacher.

<i>La Voix du Nord</i> (album) 2009 studio album by Malena Ernman

La Voix Du Nord(The Voice of the North) is a double disc album by Malena Ernman, who represented Sweden in Eurovision Song Contest 2009. The first CD contains 11 pop songs including "La voix", which was Ernman's entry at the Eurovision Song Contest, and the second CD contains 11 arias. The album was released on July 1, 2009 in Sweden. It debuted at #1 on the official album chart and was certified Gold in its first week and eventually was certified Platinum in September 2009.

Miah Persson Swedish opera singer

Miah Persson is a Swedish soprano, active internationally and in recordings.

Kerstin Avemo Swedish opera singer with an

Kerstin Avemo is a Swedish opera singer with an active international career as a coloratura soprano.

Olof Thunberg Swedish actor and director

Fritz-Olof Thunberg was a Swedish actor, voice actor and director, perhaps best known as the voice of the cartoon character Bamse.

Rickard Söderberg Musical artist

John Rickard Söderberg in Snöstorp, Halland, is a Swedish tenor, singer and debater.

Susanne Rydén Swedish soprano (born 1962)

Susanne Ingegerd Rydén is a Swedish soprano who has been called "Sweden's most renowned singer". She specializes in early music and has performed across Europe and abroad.

<i>Scenes from the Heart</i> 2018 autobiographic book by Malena Ernman and Svante Thunberg

Scenes from the Heart is a 2018 book by Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman, her husband Svante Thunberg, and their daughters, climate activist Greta Thunberg, and Beata Ernman. It consists of three main chapters, divided into several subchapters, and opens with the poem Elegi from the poetry collection Ty by Werner Aspenström. The book is written as an autobiography.


  1. Ernman, Malena. "Bio". Mezzo-Soprano Malena Ernman. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  2. Welle (, Deutsche. "Greta Thunberg's sister launches her singing career | DW | 18 February 2020". DW.COM. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  3. Macdonald, Kyle (2 October 2019). "Greta Thunberg's mother is actually an incredible opera singer". Classic FM. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  4. Guillaume Maijeur. Vadstena - Wider horizons. Opera, 1997 Annual Festival Issue, p127.
  5. Åsa Mälhammar. Sweden - Stud-farm 'Figaro'. Opera, April 1999, Vol.50 No.4, p459.
  6. Claes Wahlin. Sweden - Big city blues. Opera, February 1999, Vol.50 No.2, p213-214.
  7. Allison, John. Sweden: Down 'The Garden' path - Drottningholm. Opera, November 1999, Vol.50 No.11, p1345-46.
  8. John McCann. Belgium - Handel to perfection. Opera, September 2000, Vol. 51, No.9, p1083-84.
  9. Xavier Cester. Report from Barcelona. Opera, March 2014, Vol 65 No.3, p324.
  10. 1 2 3 "About the Performer: Malena Ernman". LA Phil. Archived from the original on 29 January 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  11. Andrew Porter. Report from Glyndebourne. Opera, October 2002, Vol.53 No.10 p1254.
  12. Proms Archive - Prom 23 Monday 4 Aug 2003 Royal Albert Hall Die Fledermaus, accessed 1 August 2019.
  13. Christopher Norton-Welsh. Report from Vienna. Opera, September 2006, Vol.57 No.9, p1062-63. The production was later mounted at the Opéra-Comique in Paris and filmed.
  14. John McCann. Report from Brussels. Opera, July 2010, Vol. 61, No.7, p827.
  15. Christopher Norton-Welsh. Report from Vienna. Opera, January 2012, Vol.63 No.1, p34.
  16. Christopher Norton-Welsh. Report from Vienna. Opera, January 2013, Vol 64 No.1, p42-43.
  17. Gerhard Persché. Reports from Vienna. Opera, July 2013 Vol.64 No.7, p869.
  18. Expressen report 'Malena Ernman har publiken i sin hand' mentioning the musical, accessed 18 April 2019.
  19. Svensk Mediadatabas for Malena Ernman, 1990-99 accessed 28 June 2019.
  20. Clas Svahn (28 February 2009). "Agnes och Malena Ernman till Globen". DN.SE. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  21. 1 2 "Sweden: Malena Ernman to Moscow! | News | Eurovision Song Contest - Baku 2012". 14 March 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  22. "Här är Malenas finalklänning | Melodifestivalen | Expressen Nöje | Nöjesnyheter Musiknyheter Filmnyheter". 30 April 2009. Archived from the original on 20 September 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  23. "Behrang Miris kamp – därför ställer Malena Ernman upp i Melodifestivalen 2015". Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  24. "Malena Ernman om familjekrisen och klimatkrisen". Dagens Nyheter . 23 August 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  25. O'Malley, Katie (24 April 2019). "Greta Thunberg's mother is a former Eurovision contestant and Twitter is ecstatic". The Independent. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  26. Christer Olsson: "Det har varit ett helvetiskt år (That has been a hell of a year)", Expressen , Stockholm, 20 May 2015.
  27. Ernman, Malena; et al. (3 June 2017). "I den akuta klimatkrisen väljer vi nu bort flyget" [In the acute climate crisis, we are now opting out of flight]. Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  28. Published in August 2018 by Bokförlaget Polaris, Sweden.
  29. "Anna Larsson, Malena Ernman and Miah Persson are appointed court singers". Swedish Royal Court. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  30. "Artisten Malena Ernman och biologen Rebecka Le Moine utsedda till Årets Miljöhjältar av WWF". WWF Sweden. 5 October 2017.
Preceded by
Charlotte Perrelli
with "Hero"
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Anna Bergendahl
with "This Is My Life"