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Subject: Nilsson
From: Greg Berg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Greg Berg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 12 Jan 2006 08:39:47 -0800

text/plain (93 lines)

Bergitas here.

As I read the many tributes to Birgit Nilsson in
Opera-L, I am filled with all sorts of emotions- and
one of them, I will freely admit, is terrible envy!
When I read that Simon Rich- to just mention one -
counts the first Nilsson Salome and Elektra Met
performances in his personal history,  I am a dozen
shades of green.   What I wouldn't give to have heard
Nilsson in person even once.  Never had the chance....
nor did Fellow Lister Marshall Anderson.... and that
is something I will always regret.  I am only grateful
that Nilsson came along at a time when recordings
could at least somewhat do justice to this incredible
voice.  Yes, I'm sure hearing her in the house was an
experience like none other- but to listen to the Solti
Gotterdammerung or the Golden Ring video is to
experience at least a generous portion of the visceral
thrill which treated those of you who heard this lady
live.  In fact, when I get home this afternoon,  I
will put on "The Golden Ring" and watch it start to
finish.... to enjoy her amazing singing (and the great
singing of her colleagues) as well as her wonderful
sense of humor.   I'll probably also take out the "I
Live for Art" video which contains a couple of
priceless moments with BN.  One of them is when she
talks about the old-style singers who had their three
gestures - right arm extended, left arm extended, or
both arms up, which she demonstrates for us with
wicked glee.  The other amazing moment is when she
mentions that early in her career she sang with
Gigli.... and just before this video was made, she had
sung opposite Carreras. . .    How many singers on the
planet can say that?!?!?    Nobody, I would wager!

I learned about BN's passing this morning,  and had to
act instanteously to do any sort of tribute on the
air.  Unfortunately, almost all of my opera CDs are at
school or home, so I had only two CDs here with BN.  I
grabbed the first one, "What They Never Sang at the
Met" which features BN in "Madre pietosa vergine" from
"Forza."  Just before I turned on the mic, I opened up
the case and was greeted with an empty tray - and I
remembered that when I received this from the estate
of an opera-loving priest who passed away some years
ago, the second disk was gone!    So I ran for the
shelf to grab the other possibility- - - the Gala disk
called "Famous Swedish Opera Singers at the Royal
Opera House in Stockholm."  Out of the 19 tracks,
unfortunately, there was only one BN track.  . . she
and Berit Lindholm in an Elektra excerpt.  I slam it
in the deck, turn on my mic and deliver a surprisingly
eloquent and coherent tribute to BN - turn on the CD
player with the words "the voice you hear that sounds
like a brilliant beacon is that of Birgit Nilsson" and
heard in the next instant the sound of Mozart and the
singing of - I think - Ingvar Wixell.  All I know is,
it wasn't Elektra nor was it BN and BL.  I potted
things down, said the thing about "technical
difficulties" and proceeded to sample to surrounding
tracks until I found the Elektra.  (I guess when you
pay $4.99 for a CD, you get what you paid for.)  I
wish in retrospect that I would have said afterwards
that Birgit was someone with a sturdy sense of humor
and she probably would have been laughing about it.  I
hope so, anyway.

A proper tribute she will receive tomorrow. . . most
likely including the magnificent final pages of Zu
neuen Taten from Gotterdammerung. . . which still rank
among the most thrilling measures of music-making I
have ever experienced.  I'm grateful, too, that her
heartful speech during the Levine Gala is part of the
CD of highlights.  That will be fun to include as
well.  But how does one pay proper tribute to an
artist like Birgit Nilsson?  I'm not even sure it's

Greg Berg
Racine, WI

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