In the fall of 1966, within a few weeks of the opening of the new Met, soprano Birgit Nilsson starred as Isolde, one of her signature roles, in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. (She is pictured here around 1971, over the Tristan of Jess Thomas.) This September, Nina Stemme opens the Met’s 2016–17 season in the same role, in a new production by Mariusz Treliński. We asked Stemme to provide photo commentary on her legendary Met predecessor.
“Birgit certainly knows how to present herself. I would like to say it’s desperation she’s showing, because it’s a moment from the third act, but there’s also something goddess-like. Is she stepping on his chest?! The light beam on her face matches the beam of her voice. It’s a very impressive photo—and it’s certainly not ‘standing and singing.’”