First published to wide acclaim in Sweden (1995) and in Germany (1997), the autobiography of opera legend Birgit Nilsson (1918–2005) is finally available in an English translation. From her humble roots in rural Sweden to her artistic triumphs in Stockholm, Bayreuth, Milan, and the Metropolitan Opera House, this candid and utterly charming memoir reveals the personality behind one of the great voices of the past century.
Gracefully weaving together the private and professional, Nilsson chronicles her idyllic childhood in Vastra Karup, the early recognition of her unique natural abilities, and her first tentative steps into a wider artistic world. After achieving national acclaim in Verdi’s Lady Macbeth, she went on to establish herself as the dominant Wagnerian soprano of her generation, appearing at the Bayreuth and Munich Festivals, and the Vienna and Bavarian State Opera Houses, creating, along the way, definitive performances of Sieglinde, Brünnhilde, and Isolde. The book details her rise to international stardom with behind-the-scenes recollections of her phenomenal triumph as Turandot at La Scala in 1958 and her headline-making Met premier in Tristan und Isolde the following year.
Nilsson’s long and illustrious career (she performed until 1984), her celebrated professional and personal relationships, her friendships and rivalries, are all recounted with a down-to-earth wit and an engagingly odd admixture of ego and selfeffacement. She tells it all: the legendary quips, the often prickly relationships with Met impresario Rudolph Bing and conductor von Karajan, the infamous story of the stalker “Miss N,” and the touchingly rendered relationship with her beloved husband, Bertil Niklasson.
What emerges from these pages is a diva in the old mold: a giant voice matched by an oversize personality, a professional who expected the same level of perfection from others that she demanded of herself, and a woman who loved and lived life with joy and good humor . . . and oh, that voice.
Includes 56 photographs and a discography.