Artist Profile: Nina Stemme, Wagnerian Master

By David Salazar

Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, born on May 11, 1963, has had a career that many sopranos would envy.

For most singers, Wagner doesn’t come easily. For others, it doesn’t come at all. Stemme has made a career out of dominating the works by the famed composer, among many other noted works.

She actually kicked off her professional life studying business administration and economics in native Stockholm while studying in an opera studio. From there she made her professional debut in Italy in 1989 and decided to commit to the singer’s life.

She competed at the Operalia Competition and Cardiff Singer of the World, winning the former. That vaulted her into a career all around the world and she has since performed at the Vienna State Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Royal Opera House, Zurich Opera, La Scala, Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne, and Salzburg, among many others.

Her repertoire early on focused on the Italian language, but she slowly moved into more and more German repertoire as her career progressed.

The soprano has picked up a number of major accolades in her career, including the Gramophone Award, Opera News Award, and Laurence Olivier Award For Outstanding Achievement in Opera.

Signature Roles

Stemme is best-known for her work in the German repertoire, specifically the operas of Wagner, some going so far as to call her the greatest Wagnerian soprano of the current operatic generation. She has sung 10 Wagner roles throughout her career, with Isolde arguably her most iconic interpretation.

It was her recording of “Tristan und Isolde” with Plácido Domingo that earned her international fame and repute.

From there she has dominated the role time and again, opening a new production at the Metropolitan Opera just a few seasons ago.

She also headlined La Scala’s new Ring Cycle as Brünnhilde, another one of her major interpretations over the past few years. The soprano’s steely voice is made for larger theaters and the music of the master of Bayreuth.

Another role that Stemme has recently dominated is that of “Turandot,” an opera that she has performed at all the major opera houses around the world, including the Met Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Royal Opera Stockholm, among others.

Read More on Nina Stemme

Four Unexpected Roles She Performed

Her Victory At Operalia in the 1990s

Watch and Listen

 Here is the famed Liebestod from “Tristan und Isolde.”

And here is the end of “Götterdämmerung.”


Opera Wiki