Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hildegard Behrens, RIP

Hildegard Behrens died Tuesday, age 72, in Japan. The soprano, a veteran of Wagner productions everywhere, was preparing for a recital and master classes. Feeling ill, she went to a hospital, where she died of an aneurysm.

I saw her live only once, as Marie in Wozzeck in San Francisco a decade ago. By that stage of her career, her voice had that stretched sound that a lyric voice has when it's inflated to dramatic proportions. She was 62 at the time, however, and sounded remarkably fresh and steady.


Paul H. Muller said...

Ms. Behrens sang Brunhilde in the PBS broadcasts of the NY Met Ring in the early 1990's, I believe. I taped all four and watched them many times. I did not realize she was 72. She certainly seemed up to the part 18 years ago, and she would have been in her early 50's.


Lisa Hirsch said...

Well....I saw Die Walkuere Act III when the DVDs are released and to my ear Morris and Behrens both sound poor next to Norman, who gives quite the singing lesson. You can see Behrens preparing for every phrase, radiating "Will I make it?"

Anonymous said...

So, what are you telling us Ms Hirsch - that your critical facilities are so wonderful, that you know so much about opera, Wagner and life in general? I wonder if you have given as much pleasure in your life as Ms Behrens did to so many people with hers - and, through her recordings, will continue to do so. Why not just celebrate the life of a great artiste, with strengths and weaknesses like all humans, but still someone to be respected for her effort, skill, intensity etc etc rather than just dismissing her as you have done, in order to show off your superior critical senses. Ms Behrens added considerably to the world of opera and I for one will be playing her Salome and Ring over the next few days in a small act of homage and hope to concentrate on the positives rather than the negatives of those fine performances.

Lisa Hirsch said...

What I'm telling you is what I saw and heard in those Behrens performances with which I am familiar. And I'm putting my name on what I have to say, too.