Artist Profile: Soprano Judith Blegen & Her Lengthy Met Opera Career

By David Salazar

Kentucky-born soprano Judith Blegen, born on April 27, 1943, made a successful career dominated by her association with the Metropolitan Opera.

She actually kicked off her career studying violin before switching over to voice at the Curtis Institute of Music and then went to Rome to continue her vocal studies. She would eventually kick off her career in Germany and Italy before making a major debut at the Vienna State Opera in 1968 in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia.” From there she returned to the states where she made a major impression playing both the violin and singing in Menotti’s “Help, Help, the Globolinks!”

Then came the Met.

She made her debut in 1970 in “Die Zauberflöte” and then made a career that lasted her over 200 performances in 19 roles. She would continue singing internationally at such companies as the Palais Garnier and the Royal Opera House in London, but the Met was her home opera.

She also appeared frequently on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

Famous Roles

As noted, Blegen’s career was, in large part, defined by her success at the Met where she sang over 200 performances. Her most-sung role was that of Sophie in “Der Rosenkavalier,” which she performed 37 times between 1973 and 1983.

Reviews were generally quite favorable to her interpretation with critic Patrick J. Smith stating, “Judith Blegen’s Sophie is well thought-out and, again, radiant of voice, but its porcelain-doll fragility sacrifices the femininity that must suffuse the role,” in 1980 and Ron Eyer in the Daily News stating that “Judith Blegen brought real vocal dimension and a pretty pout to the usually vacuous role of Sophie” of her 1973 performances.

Watch and Listen

Here is an early recording from Blegen that features an exquisite high F.

And here she is with the famed Luciano Pavarotti in their legendary recording of “L’Elisir d’Amore” from the Met Opera.


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