Mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig dies, aged 93

The leading opera singer made a name for herself on the stages of the Salzburg Festival, and was celebrated equally for her song recitals as for her operatic appearances

Richard Strauss Der Rosenkavalier: Anneliese Rothenberger and Christa Ludwig, Salzburg Festival Archive. Photo: Ellinger, 1961

German mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig has died at the age of 93.

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Having made her debut just after the end of World War Two, Ludwig joined the Vienna State Opera in 1955, performing at the Salzburg Festival under Karl Böhm in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  She went on to give 169 performances at the festival: 126 opera appearances, 21 song recitals and 18 orchestral concerts. She will be remembered particularly for her interpretations of Mozart, Strauss and Wagner, performing alongside conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein. ‘She is simply the best, and the best of all possible human beings,’ said Bernstein of Ludwig.

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She retired from the stage in 1994, but maintained an active singing career, continuing to collaborate with the Salzburg Festival. She was still giving masterclasses and workshops until her death – with one scheduled for July this year.