Obituary: Naděžda Kniplová Dies At 87

By Francisco Salazar

International soprano Naděžda Kniplová has died at the age of 87.

Born in Ostrava to a musical family, Kniplová began her vocal training from her father and later went on to study under Jarmila Vavrdová at the Prague Conservatory from 1947 to 1953. After conservatory she went on to make her professional opera debut in 1957 at the opera house in Ústí nad Labem in the title role of Smetana’s “Libuše” in 1957.

A year later she won the Geneva International Singing Competition and in 1959 joined the Brno Opera ensemble where she performed Emilia Marty in Janáček’s “The Makropulos Affair,” Judith in Bartók’s “Bluebeard’s Castle,” Katerina in Martinů’s “The Greek Passion, Kostelnička Buryjovka in Janáček’s “Jenůfa,” Renata in Prokofiev’s “The Fiery Angel,” and the title heroines in “Libuše” and Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.”

During her tenure with company she also performed at the Semperoper in Dresden in a production of “Aida” that garnered her attention and acclaim.

That attention eventually led her to become a principal soprano at the Prague National Theatre in 1965 where her first role was Ortrud in Wagner’s “Lohengrin.” She went on to sing Anežka in “The Two Widows,” Brünnhilde in Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” Eva in “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” Isolde in “Tristan und Isolde,” Kundry in “Parsifal,” Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s “Macbeth,” Leonora in Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” Milada in Smetana’s “Dalibor,” Senta in Wagner’s “Der fliegende Holländer,” and the title roles in Janáček’s “Káťa Kabanová,” Fibich’s “Šárka,” and Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Turandot.”

Kniplová would eventually make debuts at the Berlin State Opera, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Regio di Torino, the San Francisco Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Hamburg State Opera.

She also had success at the Salzburg Easter Festival where sang Brünnhilde alongside Herbert Von Karajan.

When Kniplová retired from the stage, the soprano served on the voice faculty at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

The soprano left a number of recordings for Decca and Supraphon including “Libuše” and “Götterdämmerung.”