Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

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lennygoran
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Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by lennygoran » Tue May 15, 2018 7:59 am

For Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize


By Michael Cooper
May 15, 2018

Birgit Nilsson, the era-defining Swedish dramatic soprano, would have turned 100 on May 17, and her centennial is being celebrated on a suitably Wagnerian scale.

There is a new 12-pound coffee-table book recounting her career. Not one but two lavish boxed sets of her recordings. A new documentary. And, on Tuesday, the foundation she set up near the end of her life awarded the $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize — the richest in classical music — to the singer many consider her heir: Nina Stemme.

Ms. Stemme, a fellow Swede who is now perhaps the most sought-after soprano in the world in many of the roles Nilsson was famous for, said in a statement that she was honored to be recognized by an organization named for Ms. Nilsson, whom she described as her “idol.”

Ms. Nilsson, who died in 2005 at 87, also helped Ms. Stemme early in career, awarding her a scholarship in 1996. Ms. Stemme recalled their relationship in an interview with The New York Times in 2016, as she prepared to open the Metropolitan Opera’s season as Isolde in Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” a part Ms. Nilsson was famous for.

“I always felt supported by her, and felt she was very generous,” Ms. Stemme said then. “Even as I was stepping into her repertoire.”

She will be the fourth recipient of the prize, following Plácido Domingo, Riccardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic.

The Nilsson centennial will offer fans a variety of ways to reconnect with her work, including dueling boxed sets. A set of 31 CDs called “Birgit Nilsson: The Great Live Recordings,” which will be released later this year by Sony Classical, will feature her in no fewer than three different performances of “Tristan und Isolde”; two of Strauss’s “Elektra”; Puccini’s “Turandot” opposite the tenor Franco Corelli, with whom she had a famous rivalry; and a performance of “Die Walküre” at the Met conducted by Herbert von Karajan. Another set, called “La Nilsson,” is being released by Decca and features 79 CDs and 27 operas, including two “Ring” cycles. It is billed as her complete Decca, Philips and Deutsche Grammophon recordings.

The imposing new book, “Birgit Nilsson 100: An Homage,” explores her legacy over 712 pages of photographs and essays. A documentary coming out next month, “Birgit Nilsson: A League of Her Own,” will juxtapose archival footage with interviews with opera luminaries. And, more than a dozen years after her death, she is the cover girl of the May issue of the magazine Gramophone.




https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/arts ... collection

maestrob
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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by maestrob » Tue May 15, 2018 11:01 am

Birgit Nilsson was known for her cutting sense of humor, and like every diva, she defended her territory assiduously.

One late evening at what was then O'Niel's restaurant, Nilsson settled in with a table full of her MET colleagues after a performance of (IIRC) Turandot. The conversation began smoothly enough, but soon turned to other divas not present, including Monserrat Caballe. Nilsson kept pronouncing her name as "Aballe" as the night wore on. A newcomer to the group, not realizing that she had been set up for a punchline, attempting to correct Nilsson, piped up with, "But isn't her name pronounced 'Caballe' with a C?" Nilsson, relishing the moment, paused, and then explained "Oh, no, Madame lost her C a long time ago!"

A round of laughter followed!

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by Lance » Tue May 15, 2018 11:04 am

Impressive! Yes, Nilsson - one of the greats. All of it looks most interesting in what they are doing for her 100th. I'm sure she would be pleased. I'd love that have that 12-pound coffee table book ... not to mention the commemorative CD releases. $$$
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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by John F » Tue May 15, 2018 11:46 am

"La Nilsson" is also the title of her autobiography as translated into English, an entertaining and informative read. One thing I learned from it is that the Decca/Solti "Tristan" was originally to have featured Jon Vickers singing the title role for the first time, but he backed out, and no qualified alternative was available. (Wolfgang Windgassen was under exclusive contract to DG.) Fritz Uhl, a second-rate tenor from Munich, had never sung the role before, but somehow he was chosen, a major reason why this recording is unsatisfactory. Fortunately Nilsson had a second chance, not only with an outstanding Tristan but after she had developed her own interpretation considerably, and the Bayreuth DG recording is outstanding in every way.

Nilsson made many recordings for Swedish labels and, importantly, for EMI at the beginning of her career with Walter Legge as the producer. He offered and she signed a contract for a Ring cycle for EMI, all three Brünnhildes, but for various reasons this didn't happen and eventually EMI agreed to release her from the contract. It would have been too early for her anyway.

So far there's been no independent biography of Nilsson in English. A Swedish friend has just read one (in Swedish) by Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe - not a biographer or historian but a Danish singer, but my friend says it's good. Title in Swedish: "Birgit, Från Västra Karup till Metropolitan." No sign online that it's destined for an English translation.
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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by Lance » Tue May 15, 2018 12:06 pm

What a wealth of information art thee, John Francis! I'd love to read an English translation of that book; maybe it will happen now at Nilsson's 100th! I've got some 80 titles with Nilsson on them, all the major labels she recorded for plus live performances and recitals including Bluebell, BBC, etc. What a superlative artist was Nilsson.
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by lennygoran » Tue May 15, 2018 7:07 pm

maestrob wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 11:01 am
One late evening at what was then O'Niel's restaurant, Nilsson settled in with a table full of her MET colleagues after a performance of (IIRC) Turandot.
Brian great story-we had so many CS forum dinners at O'Neals in the past before it closed--never one with Nilsson though! Regards, Len

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by John F » Tue May 15, 2018 8:00 pm

But we had at least one dinner there with Thomas Moser, and he too had stories to tell.
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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by lennygoran » Wed May 16, 2018 7:20 pm

John F wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 8:00 pm
But we had at least one dinner there with Thomas Moser, and he too had stories to tell.
That's right-a great evening-he also was with us one time for an Indian meal at Sapphire! Regards, Len :D

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by Lance » Wed May 16, 2018 10:30 pm

When did O'Neal's Restaurant closed? I had no idea. They had one of the best gas-producing artichokes I've ever had! :lol: What happened, they just couldn't make it any longer?
lennygoran wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 7:07 pm
maestrob wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 11:01 am
One late evening at what was then O'Niel's restaurant, Nilsson settled in with a table full of her MET colleagues after a performance of (IIRC) Turandot.
Brian great story-we had so many CS forum dinners at O'Neals in the past before it closed--never one with Nilsson though! Regards, Len
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by John F » Thu May 17, 2018 8:42 am

O'Neals' closed in 2010. The owner Michael O'Neal said it was largely because the owners of the building, which was converted into a high-rise condo in the '90s, were raising the rent too high when the lease ran out, and partly because of declining business after New York City Opera left Lincoln Center. Now we have no traditional meeting place near Lincoln Center, though there are several eateries there that we like. These do not include the successor in O'Neals' space, a branch of the Atlantic Grill, which is mainly though not exclusively about fish and seafood and costs rather more.

Quite a few other changes in that area. Josephina's, near O'Neals' and similar to it, is gone, replaced by a branch of The Smith; the deafening noise of the customers' talking, especially in the space at the back, disqualifies it.
John Francis

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by lennygoran » Thu May 17, 2018 9:19 am

John F wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 8:42 am
These do not include the successor in O'Neals' space, a branch of the Atlantic Grill, which is mainly though not exclusively about fish and seafood and costs rather more.
John I remember a CMG forum dinner at Atlantic Grill-June 10, 2015. The evening after that I believe is when you gave your lecture at the NYPL Performing Arts Library--Sue, myself and John B attending that. Regards, Len

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by jbuck919 » Thu May 17, 2018 11:34 am

lennygoran wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 7:07 pm
maestrob wrote:
Tue May 15, 2018 11:01 am
One late evening at what was then O'Niel's restaurant, Nilsson settled in with a table full of her MET colleagues after a performance of (IIRC) Turandot.
Brian great story-we had so many CS forum dinners at O'Neals in the past before it closed--never one with Nilsson though! Regards, Len
I certainly hope it was before the place closed ;) (It would solve our problem regarding the venue for the next meet-up for sure. And now it's my turn to ask you about an abbreviation: What is/was CS?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by lennygoran » Thu May 17, 2018 2:51 pm

Brian the CompuServe forum now gone-it was great. Len

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by maestrob » Fri May 18, 2018 11:13 am

lennygoran wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 2:51 pm
Brian the CompuServe forum now gone-it was great. Len
.....and so is the NY Times classical music forum, where I first met cliftwood and arepo, as well as diegobueno and another friend who's too intimidated to post here: still a lurker after all these years!

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by Lance » Fri May 18, 2018 11:18 am

Brian, please try to get your friend to stop lurking and contributing. We would love to see him/her on our site. Indeed, CMG is still going strong after many years, started by Ward Botsford who became a good friend to me and whom I visited several times at his home. There was another classical music forum that I have not visited in a long time. Can't even think of the name of it (old[er] age!). Anybody know if that forum is still in existence?
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by maestrob » Fri May 18, 2018 11:44 am

Lance wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 11:18 am
Brian, please try to get your friend to stop lurking and contributing. We would love to see him/her on our site. Indeed, CMG is still going strong after many years, started by Ward Botsford who became a good friend to me and whom I visited several times at his home. There was another classical music forum that I have not visited in a long time. Can't even think of the name of it (old[er] age!). Anybody know if that forum is still in existence?
Will do, Lance! :)

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by John F » Fri May 18, 2018 11:52 am

If you mean Classical Music Mayhem, here it is:

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/classic ... /index.php

From the message totals it appears to be doing moderately well, though many of the posts are by Rod Corkin who apparently runs the place. I'm not tempted.
John Francis

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by Lance » Fri May 18, 2018 12:04 pm

Yes, John F ... thank you. I think that's it. I poked my head in just now. They seem to be doing well and I wish them well. I do think I prefer our format more, but each to his own. The more people talking about classical music, the better it all is!
John F wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 11:52 am
If you mean Classical Music Mayhem, here it is:

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/classic ... /index.php

From the message totals it appears to be doing moderately well, though many of the posts are by Rod Corkin who apparently runs the place. I'm not tempted.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

John F
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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by John F » Fri May 18, 2018 12:18 pm

There's also an archive of CompuServe Music Forum posts and threads at the Web site called Forumania:

https://www.forumania.com/forum/lifesty ... ical-music

I hoped it would catch the attention of some former Music Forum members and get them back in touch, but unfortunately this isn't happening and the project looks to be stillborn. Still, there's some good reading about classical music there, if I do say so.
John Francis

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by lennygoran » Fri May 18, 2018 8:03 pm

maestrob wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 11:13 am

.....and so is the NY Times classical music forum, where I first met cliftwood and arepo, as well as diegobueno and another friend who's too intimidated to post here: still a lurker after all these years!
Brian didn't even know the NY Times had such a forum. Regards, Len

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by John F » Sat May 19, 2018 4:31 am

Me neither.
John Francis

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Re: Birgit Nilsson’s 100th, New Releases and a $1 Million Prize

Post by maestrob » Sat May 19, 2018 9:05 am

John F wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 4:31 am
Me neither.
Yes, the NYT forum shut down as a cost-saving measure about a decade ago, and was quite active until then. I must say that it was for subscribers to the Times only, and it was far less civil than CMG, which is, thanks to all who post here (especially Lance), especially comfortable.

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