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Kirsten Flagstad (1895 - 1962)


The Norwegian soprano Kirsten Flagstad (1895–1962) was born in Hamar. Her father was a conductor and her mother a pianist and coach (and her first teacher). She later studied with Ellen Schytte-Jacobsen in Oslo and Gillis Bratt in Stockholm. Her début took place in December 1913 in the National Theatre in Oslo as Nuri in D’Albert’s Tiefland.

During the following years she sang regularly with the company both in opera and operetta as well as enjoying a parallel career in the concert hall. It was her first Isolde in Wagner’s opera which aroused interest beyond her native shores. Her first overseas appearances were in minor rôles at the 1933 Bayreuth Festival to where she returned the following year as Sieglinde in Die Walküre. This success led to her engagement at the Metropolitan Opera in New York where she made an unheralded début as Sieglinde which was broadcast and created a sensation. For her other Wagnerian rôles of Brünnhilde, Elsa, Elisabeth and Kundry, Flagstad was hailed as the most important Wagnerian soprano of her time. She also appeared in San Francisco (1935–38), Chicago (1937), and Covent Garden (1936–37).

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