Christa Ludwig

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Christa Ludwig (born March 16, 1928 in Berlin ; † April 24, 2021 in Klosterneuburg ) was a German opera and concert singer ( mezzo-soprano ).


Christa Ludwig's father Anton Ludwig (1888–1957) was a singer and opera director (including in Aachen , Hanau , Gießen ), her mother Eugenie Besalla-Ludwig (1899–1993) was an alto and vocal teacher. The mother was her daughter's only singing teacher; She observed and promoted her daughter's vocal development well into the course of her daughter's career. At the age of 17, Christa Ludwig made her first public appearance in Giessen. A year later she moved to the Frankfurt Opera and made her debut as Prinz Orlowsky ( Die Fledermaus ). She stayed in Frankfurt am Main until 1952. Engagements at the Landestheater Darmstadt (1952 to 1954) and Hanover (1954 to 1955) followed. During the years in Frankfurt and Darmstadt, Christa Ludwig participated regularly at the Donaueschinger Musiktage for contemporary music and sang works by Luigi Dallapiccola , Pierre Boulez and Luigi Nono . In 1955, Karl Böhm signed her to the Vienna State Opera . She became one of the most important singers there and was appointed chamber singer in 1962 . She was a member of the ensemble for almost 40 years. During this time she sang 42 different roles in 769 performances. She also made her debut at the Salzburg Festival in 1955, where she sang until 1993 (recital on August 9th). From the 1960s she sang at the Bayreuth Festival (Brangäne and Kundry) as well as at La Scala in Milan (with Maria Callas ) and at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

Christa Ludwig was also successful outside of Europe. After appearing at the Lyric Opera in Chicago , Rudolf Bing brought her to the Metropolitan Opera New York , where she made her debut in 1959 as Cherubino ( Le nozze di Figaro ) . Until 1993 she sang important roles there such as Leonore ( Fidelio ), Dido ( Les Troyens ), Ortrud, Kundry , Marschallin, Waltraute and Fricka. Her other repertoire also included the following roles: Eboli ( Don Carlos ), Amneris ( Aida ), Lady Macbeth ( Macbeth ), Carmen , Brangäne ( Tristan and Isolde ), Venus ( Tannhäuser ), Octavian ( Der Rosenkavalier ), composer ( Ariadne auf Naxos ), Dyer ( The Woman Without a Shadow ), Klytämnestra ( Elektra ), Marie ( Wozzeck ) and Judith ( Duke Bluebeard's Castle ) .

In addition to her operatic activities, Christa Ludwig gave recitals all over the world and performed as a soloist in choir and orchestral concerts. Her favorite song composers were Schubert , Schumann , Brahms , Wolf , Mahler , Pfitzner and Strauss . Piano partners in their recitals and recordings included Sebastian Peschko , Erik Werba , Gerald Moore , Geoffrey Parsons , Irwin Gage and Charles Spencer . On individual projects she also worked with Daniel Barenboim , Tzimon Barto , Leonard Bernstein and James Levine as their respective piano partners.

Christa Ludwig had her last appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1993 with Fricka ( Die Walküre ) . In 1993 and 1994 she gave her farewell tour worldwide with a song program. On December 14, 1994 she said goodbye to her stage audience as Klytämnestra after an almost fifty-year stage career in the Vienna State Opera.

The most important conductors who accompanied her career were Karl Böhm, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein. For them, amber was “the most wonderful of them all”. During her career she met numerous singers from the opera world, including with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf , Maria Callas , Anna Moffo , Franco Corelli , Ileana Cotrubas , Edita Gruberová , Fritz Wunderlich , Plácido Domingo , Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Luciano Pavarotti .

From 1957 to 1970 she was married to the singer Walter Berry (1929-2000), with whom they had a son. In 1972 she married the French actor and director Paul-Émile Deiber (1925-2011). She lived in Klosterneuburg near Vienna. On her 90th birthday, she gave an interview to Jürgen Kesting in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , and on her 90th birthday, her autobiography You have to be easy was also published . Memories of the future (recorded by Erna Cuesta and Franz Zoglauer).

Christa Ludwig died in April 2021 at the age of 93 in Klosterneuburg.




  • Béla Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle (Judith, under István Kertész, Decca 1965)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Fidelio (Leonore, under Otto Klemperer, EMI 1962; under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1962; under Arthur Rother, Arthaus 1963, only as DVD; under Karl Böhm, OPD 1969)
  • Vincenzo Bellini: Norma (Adalgisa, under Tullio Serafin, EMI 1960)
  • Leonard Bernstein: Candide (Old Lady, under Leonard Bernstein, DG 1989, also as DVD)
  • Georges Bizet: Carmen (Carmen, under Horst Stein, EMI 1961; under Lorin Maazel, Orfeo 1966)
  • Claude Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande (Genevieve, under Claudio Abbado, DG 1991)
  • Gottfried von Eine: The Old Lady's Visit (Claire Zachanassian, under Horst Stein, Amadeo 1971)
  • Umberto Giordano: Andrea Chénier (Madelon, under Riccardo Chailly, Decca)
  • Christoph Willibald Gluck: Iphigenie in Aulis (Iphigenie, under Karl Böhm, Orfeo 1962)
  • Georg Friedrich Händel: Julius Caesar (Cornelia, under Ferdinand Leitner, Orfeo 1965)
  • Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel (Knusperhexe, under Kurt Eichhorn, RCA 1971; under Sir Colin Davis, Philips 1991)
  • Engelbert Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel (Gertrud, under Sir John Pritchard, CBS 1977)
  • Claudio Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di Poppea (under Julius Rudel, Legendary Recording 1978)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Così fan tutte (Dorabella, under Karl Böhm, Decca 1955, EMI 1962 and Gala 1962)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira, under Otto Klemperer, EMI 1967)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro (Cherubino, under Karl Böhm, Philips 1956; Orfeo 1957)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Magic Flute (Second Lady, under Karl Böhm, Decca 1955; under Otto Klemperer, EMI 1964)
  • Jacques Offenbach: Les contes d'Hoffmann (voice of the mother, under Seiji Ozawa, DG 1986)
  • Carl Orff: De temporum fine comoedia (voice, under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1973)
  • Hans Pfitzner: Palestrina (Silla, under Robert Heger, RCA 1964)
  • Ildebrando Pizzetti: Murder in the Cathedral (2nd choir leader, under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1960)
  • Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly (Suzuki, under Herbert von Karajan, Decca 1974)
  • Giacomo Puccini: Suor Angelica (Zia Principessa, under Richard Bonynge, Decca 1979)
  • Camille Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila (Dalila, under Giuseppe Patané, RCA 1973)
  • Johann Strauss: The Bat (Prince Orlofsky, under Otto Ackermann, EMI 1959)
  • Richard Strauss: Capriccio (Clairon, under Wolfgang Sawallisch, EMI 1957; under Georges Prêtre, Orfeo 1964)
  • Richard Strauss: Elektra (Klytämnestra, under Seiji Ozawa, Philips 1988)
  • Richard Strauss: The woman without a shadow (Dyer, under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1964; under Karl Böhm, Opera 1974)
  • Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (Octavian, under Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1956)
  • Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (Feldmarschallin, under Karl Böhm, DG 1969; under Leonard Bernstein, CBS 1971)
  • Richard Strauss: Salome (Page of Herodias, under Kurt Schröder, Myto 1952)
  • Giuseppe Verdi: Un ballo in maschera (Ulrica, under Sir Georg Solti, Decca 1983)
  • Giuseppe Verdi: Falstaff (Mrs. Quickly, under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1980, also as DVD; under Lorin Maazel, Orfeo 1983)
  • Giuseppe Verdi: Macbeth (Lady Macbeth, under Karl Böhm, Foyer 1970)
  • Giuseppe Verdi: Il trovatore (Azucena, under Herbert von Karajan, Artists 1977)
  • Richard Wagner: Götterdämmerung (Waltraute, under Sir Georg Solti, Decca 1964; under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1970; under James Levine, DG 1989, also as DVD)
  • Richard Wagner: Lohengrin (Ortrud, under Rudolf Kempe, EMI 1964; under Karl Böhm, Orfeo 1965)
  • Richard Wagner: The Mastersingers of Nuremberg (Magdalene, under Eugen Jochum, DG 1976)
  • Richard Wagner: Parsifal (Kundry, under Herbert von Karajan, RCA 1961; under Sir Georg Solti, Decca 1971)
  • Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold (Fricka, under James Levine, DG 1988, also as DVD)
  • Richard Wagner: Rienzi (Adriano, under Josef Krips, melodrama 1960)
  • Richard Wagner: Die Walküre (Fricka, under Sir Georg Solti, Decca 1965; under James Levine, DG 1987, also as DVD)
  • Richard Wagner: Tannhäuser (Venus, under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1963; under Sir Georg Solti, Decca 1971)
  • Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (Brangäne, under Karl Böhm, DG 1966; under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1972)
  • Highlights 1955–1974 . Excerpts from performances at the Salzburg Festival, with works by R. Strauss, Mozart, Gluck, Beethoven. (Orfeo)
  • Live Recordings 1955-1994 . Excerpts from performances at the Vienna State Opera, with works by Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Bizet, Wagner, Verdi, Tschaikowsky, Pfitzner, R. Strauss, Berg, Debussy, von Eine. (Orfeo)
  • The Legendary 1964 Recordings (R. Strauss, Gluck, Rossini, Wagner, under Heinrich Hollreiser; RCA)
  • My conductors . Excerpts from recordings with Karl Böhm, Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein (DG 2007)
  • Rarities , excerpts from La Cenerentola, Lohengrin, Don Carlos, Aida; Live recordings from the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera New York 1959–1970 (Gala 2004)
  • The first recordings - the greatest world successes , live and studio recordings since 1950 (Documents)

Concert, oratorio

  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Johannes Passion BWV 245 (under Karl Forster, EMI 1962)
  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 (under Otto Klemperer, EMI 1960; under Karl Böhm, Andromeda 1962; under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1972)
  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Mass in B minor BWV 232 (under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1973)
  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Christmas Oratorio BWV 248 (under Karl Richter, DG 1965)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Missa solemnis in D major op.123 (under Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1958; under Karl Böhm, DG 1974)
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor op.125 (under Otto Klemperer, EMI 1957; under Herbert von Karajan, Concerto 1968)
  • Leonard Bernstein: Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" (under Leonard Bernstein, DG 1977)
  • Johannes Brahms: Alto Rhapsody op.53 (under Otto Klemperer, EMI 1962; under Karl Böhm, DG 1976)
  • Anton Bruckner: Mass No. 3 in F minor (under Karl Forster, EMI 1962)
  • Joseph Haydn: The Creation (under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1966)
  • Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor (with Zubin Mehta, Decca 1975; with Leonard Bernstein, DG 1987, also as DVD; with James Levine, Orfeo 1989)
  • Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 3 in D minor (under Václav Neumann, Supraphon 1981; under Leonard Bernstein, DG 1987, also on DVD)
  • Gustav Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde (with Fritz Reiner, Archipel 1958; with Otto Klemperer, EMI 1964; with Carlos Kleiber, Wiener Symphoniker 1967; with Leonard Bernstein, CBS 1972, also on DVD; with Herbert von Karajan, DG 1973; under Václav Neumann, Praga 1983)
  • Gustav Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn (under Leonard Bernstein, CBS 1968)
  • Gustav Mahler: Songs of a traveling journeyman (under Sir Adrian Boult, EMI 1958; under Karl Böhm, Orfeo 1969)
  • Gustav Mahler: Five songs after Friedrich Rückert (under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1974; under Riccardo Muti, Sony 1992)
  • Gustav Mahler: Kindertotenlieder (under André Vandernoot, EMI 1958; under Lorin Maazel, Gala 1968; under Karl Böhm, Orfeo 1972; under Herbert von Karajan, DG 1974)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mass in C minor KV 427 (under Ferdinand Grossmann, Preiser 1956)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Requiem in D minor KV 626 (under Carlo Maria Giulini, EMI 1979)
  • Giuseppe Verdi: Messa da Requiem (under Herbert von Karajan, EMI 1958, Gala 1970 and DG 1972; under Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Archipel 1961; under Carlo Maria Giulini, EMI 1963)


  • Selected songs . Brahms, R. Strauss, Mahler, Wolf, Schubert (with Gerald Moore, EMI 1957)
  • Selected songs . Mahler, Schumann, Brahms (with Gerald Moore, EMI 1959)
  • Selected songs . Brahms, Mahler, R. Strauss, Pfitzner, Berg (with Erik Werba, Orfeo 1963/1968)
  • Selected songs . Schubert, Wolf, Mahler, R. Strauss, Bernstein (with Charles Spencer, Arthaus 1994, only as DVD)
  • Johannes Brahms: songs . Selection (with Leonard Bernstein; Sony 1972)
  • Gustav Mahler: Songs . Selection (with Leonard Bernstein, CBS 1968)
  • Franz Schubert: songs . Selection (with Geoffrey Parsons, EMI 1961)
  • Franz Schubert: songs . Selection (with Irwin Gage, DG 1973/1974)
  • Franz Schubert: Winterreise (with James Levine, DG 1986; with Charles Spencer, Arthaus 1994, only as DVD)
  • Robert Schumann: Women's love and life (with Geoffrey Parsons, Praga 1966)
  • Robert Schumann: Liederkreis op.39 , selection (with Erik Werba, DG 1968)
  • Richard Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder (under Otto Klemperer, EMI 1962)
  • Hugo Wolf: Lieder der Mignon (with Erik Werba; DG 1968)
  • Hugo Wolf: Italian songbook (with Daniel Barenboim; DG 1975)
  • Les Introuvables de Christa Ludwig (EMI 1957–1969)
  • Farewell to Salzburg . Schumann, Mahler, Brahms, Strauss (with Charles Spencer, RCA 1993)
  • Tribute to Vienna . Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, Wolf, Bernstein, R. Strauss, Brahms (with Charles Spencer, RCA 1994, also on DVD)


Web links

Commons : Christa Ludwig  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Opera star Christa Ludwig died at the age of 93
  2. Christa Ludwig's appearances at the Vienna State Opera
  3. Appearances with Christa Ludwig at the Salzburg Festival.
  4. Performance database of the Bayreuth Festival
  5. Christa Ludwig's appearances at La Scala in Milan.
  6. Christa Ludwig's appearances at the Met
  7. a b My fear A . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , March 16, 2018, p. 11.
  8. Christa Ludwig turns 90th birthday of the "Marschallin". In: March 12, 2018. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  9. ^ Inscription Deutschordenshof, passage: Christa Ludwig 1969 (accessed on June 10, 2014)
  10. ↑ Office of the Federal President
  11. List of all decorations awarded by the Federal President for services to the Republic of Austria from 1952 (PDF; 6.9 MB)