Hildegard Behrens, 1937-2009

Hildegard Behrens has died. The German soprano - she was one of our era's great vehicles of emotion, and not just in Wagner - fell ill while traveling in Japan, and died in a Tokyo hospital. She was 72, and was still singing recently.

Here is some of what I heard in 2003 during her recital at the Perelman for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society:

"When you're a great diva and you want to sing about the small matter of gods going up in flames, you can't just step out on stage and start cold. You have to build to the idea, maybe warming up with a little infanticide and some free-floating insanity.

"That Hildegard Behrens was able to convey any of those ideas so fully, outside of their operatic context and without benefit of a full orchestra (click here for rest of the review).

Here is her obituary, by David Patrick Stearns.