B0039. ASTRID VARNAY. Fifty-Five Years in Five Acts – My Life in Opera [Autobiography]. Boston, Northeastern University Press, 2000. 363pp. Index; Discography; Photos; DJ. - 9781555534554 1-55553-455-4
"Astrid Varnay, the charismatic dramatic soprano whose distinguished 55-year career began at 23 with a last-minute début at the Metropolitan Opera, singing the role of Sieglinde in Wagner’s Die Walküre for an indisposed Lotte Lehmann, died in Munich [4 Sept., 2006]. She was 88….Six days [after her Met début] Helen Traubel, scheduled to sing Brünnhilde in DIE WALKÜRE, took ill and Ms Varnay, in another last-minute substitution, sang the role, wowing New York audiences and critics….Her work recently came to public attention again when the Testament label released the first two installments of a complete account of Wagner’s RING, recorded live at the 1955 Bayreuth Festival…."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 Sept., 2006
"Astrid Varnay was just twenty-three years old when she made her unofficial debut at the Metropolitan Opera as a last-minute replacement for the suddenly ill Lotte Lehmann. Varnay's critically acclaimed performance as Sieglinde in DIE WALKÜRE catapulted her into the limelight. Varnay reflects on her remarkable life in opera, discussing her signature roles and performances, vocal preparation and technique, interpretive acting style, and her seamless transition from leading soprano to character roles, including her switch from Elektra to Klytemnästra in Strauss' ELEKTRA. Her engaging and witty memoir is filled with frank, often critical, observations about many of the most significant vocal artists, conductors, and directors of the twentieth century. She describes her lifelong friendship with operatic idol Kirsten Flagstad, the years at the Met and conflicts with Rudolf Bing, her appearances at the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, and her artistic rift with Herbert von Karajan.
As the careers of [Nilsson and Varnay] overlapped, it is instructive to compare their point of view on some of the productions in which they both appeared. Bayreuth played a major role in both lives, and both discuss the Festival in detail. Varnay had less of an American career than Nilsson, and Varnay’s relationship with Metropolitan Opera director Rudolf Bing was often less than cordial. Both singers were strong-willed, but Varnay comes off as the tougher more intense of the two."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2008