Written by:Vibeke Rask Grøn
The German soprano Hildegard Behrens received the 1998
Leonie Sonning Music Prize.
The soprano Hildegard Behrens has
19. August 2009 05.48 Abroad Updated.: 19 August 2009
The German soprano Hildegard Behrens died, 72 years old. She died
in Tokyo late last night.
Hildegard Behrens was Germany's major dramatic soprano, who has
been particularly well-known for her many roles in Richard Wagner's
operas, but she has also sung Carl Maria von Weber, Mozart and
Richard Strauss into many hearts.
Her voice was at the same time light and with a lyrical sound
that is not normally associated with the demanding operatic parts,
but she mastered it anyway as few have and had great success with
the most dramatic soprano roles.
Hildegard Behrens was educated at the Music Academy in Freiburg,
Germany and debuted in 1971 as the Countess in The Marriage
of Figaro. A year later, in 1972, she became a member of
the Deutsche Opera am Rhein.
In 1976 she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
It was during the same period that she was contacted by the conductor
Herbert von Karajan, who at the time sought a soprano for Strauss
opera Salome. She got the role and performed it on stage at the
Salzburg Festival in 1977.
Hildegard Behrens has through her career, received many awards,
the key honors being the German Cross of Merit and the Bavarian
Order of Merit.
In 1998 she received the Danish Sonning Music Prize.
One of the foremost
Posted on August 19, 2009 11:24 | Updated September 28, 2009 16:13
German opera singer, soprano Hildegard Behrens, 72 years,
Germany, has died suddenly during a music festival in Tokyo.
She is considered one of the top Wagner interpreters since Birgit
Her career which spanned over three decades began in Freiburg
in 1971 in the role of the Countess in Mozart's Le nozze di
Figaro. Her debut at the Metropolitan Opera was in 1976 as
Giorgetta in Puccini's Il Tabarro.
Her big breakthrough role came the following year when she sang
the title role in Strauss' Salome at thr Salzburg Festival
in Austria after being "discovered" by the great master
Herbert von Karajan.
She sang a total of 171 performances at the Metropolitan where
she worked until 1999.
Hildegard Behrens was born and raised in the north German town
of Varel, Oldenburg. Her parents were both doctors, and she and
her five siblings studied piano and violin as children. She received
a law degree from the University of Freiburg where she also was
a member of the student choir.
Hildegard Behrens was the recipient of the prestigious German
Medal of Merit, Bundesverdienstkreuz, and the Bavarian
Order of Merit, Bayerischer Verdienstorden. She was honored
by both the State Opera in Munich and the opera house in Vienna.
1998 she was also awarded the Danish Leonie Sonning Prize.
She leaves behind a son and a daughter. The funeral will take
place in Vienna shortly.
soprano Hildegard Behrens was born 9 February 1937. She died at
a hospital in Tokyo on Tuesday 18 August 2009.
Hildegard Behrens's career as a singer began in 1971. In 1973
she became an ensemble member of Deutschen Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf-Duisburg
and (in 1974) also a member of Oper Frankfurt. After some minor
roles she sang Marie in Alban Berg's "Wozzeck".
Hildegard Behrens's international career rocketed when Herbert
von Karajan offered her the lead role in Richard Strauss's "Salome"
at the Salzburg Festival in 1977.
Her career centred around the operas of Richard Wagner, Richard
Strauss and Mozart. She can be heard as Brünnhilde on the
recordings of Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by respectively
James Levine (also released on DVD) and Wolfgang Sawallisch (also
released on VHS). Behrens delivered a wonderful performance as
Isolde on Leonard Bernstein's recording of Tristan und Isolde
(1981). The video above is taken from the concerts that were used
for this recording.
Hildegard Behrens sang Brünnhilde at the Bayreuth Festival
in the Peter Hall / George Solti Ring (1983-86).
Hildegard Behrens appeared regularly on opera stages all over
the world, with conductors like Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm,
Leonard Bernstein, James Levine and Wolfgang Sawallisch.