Farewell to Christa Ludwig May 18 2021
Christa Ludwig, one of the greatest mezzo-sopranos of the
20th century, passed away at the age of 93 at her home in Klosterneuburg, Austria.
Ms. Ludwig was a renowned singer and stage actor who brought power and charisma to every song and role.
Her career spanned close to half a century and took her from Berlin to the biggest stages across the world.
Her Wide Vocal Range and Charisma Captivated Audiences
From an early age, Christa Ludwig had a natural gift for singing, which is understandable considering her parentage. She was born in 1928 in Berlin to parents who were actively involved in the opera.
Anton Ludwig, Christa’s father, ran a local opera and was a singer himself. Her mother, Eugenie Besalla-Ludwig, was also a mezzo-soprano and performed at the Aachen Opera. Her parent's love of the opera soon passed to young Christa.
At the young age of eight, Ms. Ludwig sang an aria to Mozart’s The Magic Flute. However, her childhood also coincided with World War II. Her family moved to a small town outside of Hesse, Germany after their home was bombed toward the end of the war.
She made her debut at the age of 18 for the Frankfurt Opera in 1946. She stayed with the company for six years and performed on several other stages before finding her real home at the Vienna State Opera.
One of the Most Acclaimed German Chamber Singers
Christa Ludwig received several recognitions throughout her
lifetime, including being awarded the Kammersangerin (Chamber Singer) title in 1962.
The award came just three years after her first performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She would go on to complete 121 performances at the Met. However, the bulk of her career was spent with the Vienna State Opera.
Ms. Ludwig joined the Vienna State Opera in 1955 and gave a total of 769 performances with the company. While she toured the world, Vienna was her home base.
About two years after joining the Vienna State Opera, Christa Ludwig met her first husband – Walter Berry. The two stayed together until 1970 and had one son.
Working with the Top Conductors of the 20th Century
Ms. Ludwig’s prolific career allowed her to work intimately with several of the top conductors of the 20th century. At the Vienna State Opera, she worked under Karl Bohm. Bohm had a major influence on Ludwig’s career, helping to push her boundaries and range and take on more challenging roles.
Ms. Ludwig also worked with Herbert von Karajan. However, her fondest memories were of working with Leonard Bernstein – the acclaimed American conductor and pianist. Christa Ludwig gave many lieder performances with Bernstein accompanying her on piano.
While she is mostly remembered for her opera roles, Ms. Ludwig was also a remarkable singer of classical music.
Christa Ludwig was preceded in death by her second husband Paul-Emile Deiber (2011) and was succeeded by her son Wolfgang Berry.
Farewell to Christa Ludwig
She will be remembered for her warm voice with tremendous range and charismatic personality that would leave audiences mesmerized.
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