The inimitable Birgit Nilsson was born 100 years ago this month and would go on to portray many of the most dramatic roles of the operatic repertoire.
To celebrate the centenary of her birth on May 17, 1918, Metropolitan Opera Radio (Ch. 75) will present a collection of some of Nilsson’s most memorable Met performances throughout the week, beginning May 14 and running through May 20.
The Swedish soprano, who made her debut in 1959 as Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, went on to sing more than 200 performances of 16 roles and may be best known for portrayals of commanding heroines of the German canon — from the title characters of Richard Strauss’ Salome and Elektra to Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Die Walküre and Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio.
But when Nilsson turned to the Italian repertoire, as she did on 93 occasions, the results were equally riveting. Her portrayal of the icy princess Turandot — the role she sang a record 52 times with the company — will go down as one of the most electrifying performances of any artist in Met history.
Met Opera Radio will proudly present the channel’s archival broadcast premiere of Turandot, with Nilsson in the title role, on May 15 at 12 pm ET; May 17 at 6pm ET; and May 19 at 9 am ET.