Composers / Arne Nordheim / Persons catalog

Kirsten Flagstad

Kirsten Flagstad (1895–1962), a Norwegian dramatic soprano of global reputation, a great interpreter of Wagner, she hailed from a musical family (her father was a violinist and conductor, mother gave piano lessons). She debuted in Oslo in 1913, then she sang in Goteborg and Bayreuth, in 1935 she made a sensational debut in the Metropolitan Opera as Sieglind and found employment there until 1941. She also sang in the London Royal Opera and Covent Garden, under the most prominent conductors of the time. She came back to Norway during the war, to her second husband, who was a member of the national socialist party (NS). She did cause Henry T.I. Johansen (1883-1946) to leave the party and renounce all public functions, but still he was tried and she was denounced as unpatriotic, even though she did not perform at Nazi events and gave concerts only in Sweden and Switzerland. The accusations brought about the demise of her career in Norway and in the allied countries, even though in the years 1948 to 1952 she still sang at MET and gave concerts around the world. In the years 1958 to 1960 she was the first director of the Norwegian Opera (for which she did not take any remuneration). She donated a large part of her funds to bring together the first singers ensemble and increase the orchestra. She withdrew from active career due to cancer.

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