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Hildegard Behrens

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Hildegard Behrens

Hildegard Behrens (9 February 1937 – 18 August 2009) was a German soprano with a wide repertoire including Wagner, Weber, Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Alban Berg roles.


  • Biography 1
  • Awards 2
  • Performances 3
  • Notes 4
  • Sources 5
  • External links 6


Behrens was born in Il tabarro.

She began her musical career singing small roles at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf where she stayed for six years during which she graduated into bigger roles. Then in the 1975–76 season, while rehearsing Wozzeck, she was "discovered" by Herbert von Karajan, who was then looking for his new Salome. She was summoned to Berlin to audition for the role. Karajan liked what he heard and invited her to portray the role at the 1977 Salzburg Festival.

Behrens was the recipient of many awards - among them the highest civilian honors given by the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz or Order of the Merit Cross of the Federal Republic) and by the state of Bavaria (the Bayerischer Verdienstorden), and the titles of Bayerische Kammersängerin and Österreichische Kammersängerin bestowed by the Bavarian State Opera and the Vienna State Opera respectively. In 1998, she received Denmark's most prestigious Leonie Sonning Music Prize and in 1999 the Vienna State Opera honored her with the Lotte Lehmann Ring, bequeathed to her by the late dramatic soprano Leonie Rysanek.

She sang the role of Brünhilde in the PBS broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's performance of The Ring of the Nibelung, for the largest viewing audience in history.

Hildegard Behrens died of a sudden aortic aneurysm, aged 72, in hospital in Tokyo, Japan, where she had been attending the Kusatsu International Summer Music Fest.[2][3]




  1. ^ Anthony Tommasini, Hildegard Behrens, Soprano Acclaimed for Wagner, Is Dead at 72, New York Times (obituary), 2009/08/19.
  2. ^ Reuters, "German soprano Hildegard Behrens dies aged 72"
  3. ^ Notice of death of Behrens


  • Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, 782 pages, ISBN 0-19-869164-5

Further reading

  • Liese, Kirsten, Wagnerian Heroines. A Century Of Great Isoldes and Brünnhildes, English translation: Charles Scribner, Edition Karo, Berlin, 2013. OCLC 844683799

External links

  • Hildegard Behrens' Homepage
  • Info on Bayreuth Festival Homepage
  • Hildegard Behrens - Daily Telegraph obituary
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