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Anja Silja (b1940)

Silja’s family was of Finnish extraction. Both her parents were actors and her musical ability was quickly recognized by her grandfather, Egon van Rijn, who was her singing coach from her sixth to her twenty-sixth year, giving her an extremely secure vocal technique. She made her first public appearance aged only ten at Berlin’s Titania Palast and thereafter toured as a child prodigy.

In 1956 Silja made her operatic stage debut at Braunschweig (Brunswick) as Rosina / Il barbiere di Siviglia. She sang with the Stuttgart Opera in 1958 and the Frankfurt Opera in 1959, the year in which she attracted attention as the Queen of the Night / Die Zauberflöte at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, having already sung this role with the Vienna State Opera under Karl Böhm. However her real breakthrough occurred during the following year when, having learnt all the major Wagnerian roles with her grandfather, a keen Wagnerian, by the age of ten, she substituted for Leonie Rysanek as Senta / Der fliegende Holländer at the Bayreuth Festival.




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