Hildegard Behrens

Hildegard Behrens
Hildegard Behrens, opera singer.jpg
Behrens as Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera, 1985
Born(1937-02-09)9 February 1937
Varel, Germany
Died18 August 2009(2009-08-18) (aged 72)
Tokyo, Japan
EducationUniversity of Freiburg
OccupationOperatic soprano

Hildegard Behrens (9 February 1937 – 18 August 2009) was a German operatic soprano with a wide repertoire including Wagner, Weber, Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Alban Berg roles. She performed at major opera houses around the world, and received several Grammy Awards for performances with the Metropolitan Opera.

Life and career

Behrens was born in Varel in 1937. She graduated from the University of Freiburg as a junior barrister before becoming serious about her talents as a singer, studying at first with Ines Leuwen at the Freiburg Academy Of Music. She made her stage debut was as the Countess in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in Freiburg in 1971. In 1973, she joined the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. In the 1975–76 season, while rehearsing for Alban Berg's Wozzeck, she was "discovered" by Herbert von Karajan, who was then looking for a new Salome. She was summoned to Berlin to audition for the role. Karajan liked what he heard and invited her to portray the role at the 1977 Salzburg Festival.

In 1990, she sang the role of Brünnhilde in the PBS broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's performances of Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Hildegard Behrens died of a sudden aortic aneurysm, aged 72, in hospital in Tokyo, Japan, where she had been attending the Kusatsu International Summer Music Festival.


Behrens was the recipient of many awards, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Bavarian Order of Merit. The title of Kammersängerin was bestowed by both the Bavarian State Opera and the Vienna State Opera. In 1998, she received Denmark's prestigious Leonie Sonning Music Prize, and in 1999 the Vienna State Opera honoured her with the Lotte Lehmann Ring, bequeathed to her by Leonie Rysanek.

She received several Grammy Awards, including:

Performances on video

Available on DVD:

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