Christa Ludwig’s 5 Controversial Statements During Interview With Swiss Publication

By David Salazar

Christa Ludwig is one of the greatest artists of all-time. She made her mark in the German repertoire laying claim to numerous roles in Strauss and Wagner operas.

The soon-to-be 89-year-old recently had an interview with Swiss Publication NZZ on Sunday, giving her insight on a number of opera topics. You will surely find some unique and potentially controversial thoughts laid about.

1. She holds disdain for Italian Opera.

“All the Italian operas of Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi: Is that really art?” It is odd to hear her make this statement considering that she sang quite a few roles in that repertoire including “Macbeth” and  “Aida.”

2. She doesn’t have much admiration for colleagues…

…Except for maybe two. “When Jon Vickers sang ‘Gott, welch Dunkel hier’ [God, what darkness here – in Fidelio], I began to weep on the stage,” she stated in the interview. “This had nothing to do with beautiful singing, that was expression… If, on the other hand, I hear the stretta from Il Trovatore with the high C, I am delighted, but I do not admire him. Callas is probably the only one I admire: her voice was the tragedy of her life.”

3. She doesn’t believe in superstardom.

She was rather pointed in her assessment of superstardom, noting that Anna Netrebko is not the best singer in the world, but has the best advertising. “In five years we will have another Netrebko.”

4. She also doesn’t see the point in long careers.

In another jab, she noted that singing for your entire career makes no sense. Her example of who not to become? “Plácido Domingo will soon be singing Sarastro. What’s the point of that? Or does he have nothing but the music? I find it sad when one cannot get away from work – it is ridiculous.”

5. There is no true recipe for a great career.

When it came down to describing the essentials for a great career, Ludwig noted it was all “a secret.”“Look at Maria Callas – she did not have a nice voice, but what she made of it, these interpretations – incredible! When Callas sings a Bellini recitative, I begin to cry. But sometimes you cannot describe what a singer has or does not have. Is it called charisma? Or personality? ‘It’s a secret,’ my mother always said. I do not know if I had that secret aged 20.”