The Incomparable Birgit Nilsson (17 May 1918 – 25 December 2005)

'Laserlike' is a term that has been regularly used when describing the incredible artistry of Birgit Nilsson.  Her precision, pitch and the steely quality of her voice made her nigh on perfect as a Wagnerian singer.  She was however, so much more than that.

La Nilsson remains to this day one of my most treasured singers.  The photos above are originals I purchased last year as a tribute, they come from Covent Garden during the late 50's, though I am unsure as to what role they are portraits of.  Isolde and Brunnhilde immediately spring to mind, Brunnhilde in particular. (Edit...after a bit more research these appear to be from her CG debut as Brunnhilde, 1957)

As a musical tribute I have chosen Isolde's Liebestod, recorded with Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic for Decca in September, 1960.  It remains one of my favourite recordings of Tristan und Isolde, despite the criticism of Fritz Uhl's Tristan and in my opinion vastly underrated.  Enjoy this spectacular example of one of the most remarkable voices ever to grace the stage and recording studio.

There is an excellent biography of La Nilsson on Wikipedia that covers many different aspects of her life, including her legendary humour, it's worth a read, as is her official website with many photographs and examples of her artistry, plus interviews and much else.  The rich heritage this great singer left behind will forever see her remembered in the Operatic Pantheon.