Obituary: Famed Mezzo-Soprano Christa Ludwig Dies at 93

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: © Willy Saeger)

Famed dramatic mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig has passed away at the age of 93.

Ludwig was born in Berlin in a musical family. She made her operatic debut right after WWII in 1946 in Johan Strauss’ operetta “Die Fledermaus” at the Oper Frankfurt. She became a member of the ensemble of the Staatstheater Darmstadt in 1952. In 1954 Ludwig became a member of the ensemble of the Staatsoper Hannover.

In 1955, Ludwig joined the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper and swiftly advanced to become one of the principal artists at the opera house. She was appointed the Kammersängerin in Vienna in 1962.

Ludwig’s vast repertoire included such roles as Kundry in Wagner’s “Parsifal,” Eboli in “Don Carlo,” the title role in Bizet’s “Carmen,” Ulrica in “Un Ballo in Maschera,” Dido in Berlioz’s “Les Troyens,” Ortrud in “Lohengrin,” Fricka in “Das Rheingold” and “Die Walküre,” Waltraute in “Götterdämmerung,” Klytämnestra in “Elektra,” the title role in Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” Charlotte in “Werther,” Amneris in “Aida,” Adalgisa in Bellini’s “Norma,” which she sang alongside Maria Callas, Brangäne in “Tristan und Isolde,” and the Marschallin in Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier,” among others.

She appeared on the world’s most prestigious opera stages, including the Wiener Staatsoper, Metropolitan Opera House, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and Teatro alla Scala, among others. Ludwig also sang at major opera festivals, such as the Bayreuth Festival and the Salzburg Festival.

Ludwig was honored with several important international awards, including the lifetime achievement at Midem, Saeculum-Glashütte Original Music Festival Award at the Dresden Music Festival, Honorary doctorate from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, and Gramophone magazine Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In 2010 she was appointed the Officer of the Legion of Honour in France.