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Hardcover, 6.5 x 9.25 in. / 352 pgs / 56 bw.

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Catalog: FALL 2018 p. 148   

ISBN 9783903228252 TRADE
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La Nilsson: My Life in Opera

By Birgit Nilsson. Preface by Georg Solti. Afterword by Peggy Tuller.

La Nilsson: My Life in Opera

A charming and candid memoir by one of the great voices of the past century

First published to wide acclaim in Sweden (1995) and Germany (1997), the autobiography of opera legend Birgit Nilsson (1918–2005) is finally available in an English translation (itself first published by Northeastern University Press in 2007). From her humble roots in rural Sweden to her artistic triumphs in Stockholm, Bayreuth, Milan and the Metropolitan Opera House, this candid and utterly charming memoir reveals the personality behind one of the great voices of the past century. Gracefully weaving together the private and professional, Nilsson chronicles her idyllic childhood in Vastra Karup, the early recognition of her abilities and her first tentative steps into a wider artistic world. After achieving national acclaim in Verdi's Lady Macbeth, Nilsson went on to establish herself as the dominant Wagnerian soprano of her generation. The book details her rise to international stardom with behind-the-scenes recollections, photographs and a discography.

Featured image, reproduced from La Nilsson: My Life in Opera, is captioned: "An aspiring debutante in 1946, as Agatha in Der Freischutz. My own prologue was just as dramatic as Weber's opera, and the path to a triumphant premiere and media accolades was truly strewn with thorns. All the same, the Opera's directorship thought me 'unmusical and untalented,' and decided I would have to mature on the sidelines." © Studio Jarlas.

La Nilsson: My Life in Opera

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Preface by Birgit Nilsson

Writing memoirs: For some years various publishers have tried to break down my resistance, which I had held to be unshakable.
Writing memoirs: A shiver of respect ran down my spine at the very thought of those authors who, when writing of their life experiences, can hold their readers spellbound from the first to last word.
Writing memoirs: To my amazement I have come to realize that publishers are inundated with egoists, each of whom believes his life has to be in print for the benefit of future generations. Heart, kidneys, you-name-it—all are exposed; with unrestrained joy dirty laundry is publicly washed in the hope of writing a best seller.
Writing memoirs: No! Never! I will not be answerable to putting any heavier burden on the environment by adding the noxious chemicals of printer’s ink to the air.

And yet! Here I sit, tortured, before the blank sheet of paper to which I will shortly entrust some of my memories.
This is a challenge whose result I have fortunately not fully grasped. What caused me to change my mind about memoirs?
First, for reasons on which I shall not further elaborate, I find myself at a dead end.
Second, I can blame everything on the onset of senility, which has di- minished my capacity for self-criticism.
Third, I want to forestall the coming of the day when some nasty little writer will cook up a brew of lies about la Nilsson.
And last, I hope to tell my readers something about my long life, forty years of which were devoted to a career in singing.
Just at this moment I am experiencing almost wonderful expectations and I am filled with happiness. I am enthusiastic, even feverish, and my head is swimming at the thought of letting my life happen all over again by bringing all my experiences back into the present. How exciting!
But how will my whole life fit into one book? Never mind; it is much too soon to worry about that. Now the only thing that counts: “To write! To write!”
At this moment nothing seems to stand in the way of my decision. But I know that soon doubt and what remains of any self-criticism will give me trouble. The sun will disappear behind the clouds, my desire to write will waver, and feelings of inadequacy will plague me. But a challenge it is and I love challenges.
So with God’s help! Amen.