Christa Ludwig, 1928–2021

The Metropolitan Opera mourns the death of one of the great singers of the 20th century, mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig (pictured above as Fricka in Wagner’s Die Walküre). The extraordinarily beautiful timbre of her voice, allied to her highly refined musicianship and strong characterizations, made her the pre-eminent mezzo-soprano in her native German repertory for the post–World War II period. She sang 15 roles and 119 performances at the Met and took leading parts in new-production premieres of Wagner’s Lohengrin, Die Walküre, Parsifal, and Götterdämmerung; Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten and Der Rosenkavalier; and Massenet’s Werther. Ludwig was equally known as one of the world’s most accomplished interpreters of German lieder. In 1983, she sang Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise in a solo recital on the Met stage, with Music Director James Levine accompanying at the piano. Her initial Met season in 1959–60 demonstrated the breadth of her talent when she sang first Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro for her debut, then went on to appear as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Brangäne in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, and Amneris in Verdi’s Aida within a two-month period. Ludwig’s final performances at the Met were as Fricka in Die Walküre in 1993. Her participation in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is immortalized in the telecast performances of the cycle from 1989 and 1990, and six other of her roles are documented in Met radio broadcasts. We extend our sincere condolences to her son, Wolfgang, and grandson, Kevin.