V0212. BIRGIT NILSSON, w.Eva Prytz, Kerstin Meyer, Arne Tyrén, Sundquist, Ericson, etc.: DER ROSENKAVALIER – Excerpts; Nilsson, w.Conny Söderström, Leon Björker, Sigurd Björling, etc.: FIDELIO – Excerpts (both w.Sixten Ehrling Cond. Royal Swedish Opera Ensemble). (Sweden) 2-Caprice Stereo / Mono CAP 22052, Live Performances, 1959, Stockholm. Final Copy! - 7391782220520
“This double-disc of excerpts of two operas, given in 1959, derives from recordings made by the Royal Swedish Opera. They record…two appearances of Nilsson with her home company just as she was about to be acclaimed as a nonpareil of a dramatic soprano on the international scene. As such they are invaluable….She is well partnered [in DER ROSENKAVALIER] by Kerstin Meyer; they are a passionate pair….In Act II, Meyer is joined by the pure-voiced Sophie of Eva Prytz….[in FIDELIO] she is well matched by Conny Söderström, her Florestan. Sweden has over the years produced many of the most eloquent takers of that part; Söderström was one of them. The booklet tells us that Nilsson thinks Björker was the finest Wagnerian bass she ever sang with. As far as one can tell from his rich-voiced Rocco, that may well be true.”
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, Dec., 2003
“Nilsson made so strong an imprint on a number of rôles that her name came to be identified with a repertory, the ‘Nilsson repertory’, and it was a broad one. She sang the operas of Richard Strauss and made a specialty of Puccini's TURANDOT, but it was Wagner who served her career and whom she served as no other soprano since the days of Kirsten Flagstad.
A big, blunt woman with a wicked sense of humor, Ms. Nilsson brooked no interference from Wagner's powerful and eventful orchestra writing. When she sang Isolde or Brünnhilde, her voice pierced through and climbed above it. Her performances took on more pathos as the years went by, but one remembers her sound more for its muscularity, accuracy and sheer joy of singing under the most trying circumstances.
Her long career at the Bayreuth Festival and her immersion in Wagner in general, began in the mid-1950's. No dramatic soprano truly approached her stature thereafter, and in the rôles of Isolde, Brünnhilde and Sieglinde, she began her stately 30-year procession around the opera houses of the world. Her United States debut was in San Francisco in 1956. Three years later she made her début at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Isolde under Karl Böhm, and some listeners treasure the memory of that performance as much as they do her live recording of the rôle from Bayreuth in 1966, also under Böhm. The exuberant review of her first Met performance appeared on the front page of The New York Times on 19 Dec., 1959, under the headline, ‘Birgit Nilsson as Isolde Flashes Like New Star in 'Met' Heavens’."
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 Jan., 2006
“I personally prefer live recordings. What they lose in technical perfection they gain in vitality and spontaneity. A studio version cannot escape the danger of substituting a lovely collage for a true interpretation….I know for certain that there are many live recordings that are genuine as well as beautiful.”
- Birgit Nilsson, LA NILSSON, pp.238-39