Mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig dies aged 94
Her death was announced on Sunday by the Vienna State Opera, which said she died on Saturday.
A mezzo-soprano who also succeeded in soprano roles, Ludwig made her Vienna State Opera debut as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro on April 14, 1955, when the company was temporarily in the Redoutensaele.
She was heard in the rebuilt opera house for the first time that December 26 as Octavian in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier.
She sang 769 performances of 42 roles in Vienna.
Ludwig made her debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera on December 10, 1959, as Cherubino, with Erich Leinsdorf conducting a cast that included Giorgio Tozzi as Figaro, Elisabeth Soderstrom as Susanna, Lucine Amara as the Countess, Regina Resnik as Marcellina and Teresa Stratas as Barbarina.
“Her singing was precise and even, each tone clear and true, and her Italian rippled along like a second music,” critic Louis Biancolli wrote in The New York World-Telegram and Sun. “The ovation was fully deserved.”
She sang 119 performances of 15 roles at the Met.
Ludwig was born in Berlin on March 16, 1928, to tenor Anton Ludwig and mezzo-soprano Eugenie Besalla-Ludwig. She grew up in Aachen, where her father was an opera administrator and as a young girl watched her mother sing with conductor Herbert Van Karajan.
She debuted in 1946 at Oper Frankfurt as Prince Orlovsky in Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus and went on to the Staatstheater Darmstadt and Staatsoper Hannover before her breakthrough in Vienna.
In the 1970s, her career was hampered when capillary veins in her throat burst.
“It was an experience necessary for my art,” she told The Associated Press in 2001. “I like to climb over obstacles, otherwise life is so boring.”
Ludwig sang her Met farewell as Fricka on April 3, 1993, and her Vienna State Opera farewell as Klytamnestra in Strauss’ Elektra on December 14, 1994. She retired from singing while teaching occasional master classes.