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Following the Royal Opera House UK, the 2021 WFMT Radio Network Opera Series continues with two archival broadcasts from Royal Swedish Opera (Kungliga Operan), presented in partnership with the European Broadcasting Union.
First up in Royal Swedish Opera’s broadcasts is a 1960 live recording of Verdi’s Il Trovatore with the exceptional Jussi Bjorling in the role of Manrico under the direction of Herbert Sandberg. Following this classic, the Royal Swedish Opera presents Strauss’ Elektra, starring Birgit Nilsson in the title role.
Some background and context for these broadcasts is below, courtesy of Radio Sweden:
Il Trovatore: This production of Il Trovatore was recorded at Jussi Björling’s (1911-1960) last performance at the Royal Opera, the scene where he made his opera debut in 1930. This evening in 1960, his counterpart was the legendary Hjördis Schymberg (1909-2008). Already in 1934 she sang with Björling in Puccini’s La Bohème and they sang over 100 performances together over the years. But as said, this was the last. Manrico in Il Trovatore was one of Jussi Björling’s parade roles. Kerstin Meyer, who was 17 years younger than Björling, sings the role of Manrico’s mother Azucena. Hugo Hasslo also participates here, in the role of Count Luna.
Elektra: This production of Strauss’ Elektra is from 1965 and stars three internationally active opera singers: Birgit Nilsson, Barbro Ericson (b.1930) and Berit Lindholm (b.1934). This is from the sensational Swedish premiere of Strauss’ opera which was the first time Birgit Nilsson sang Elektra. This extremely demanding role became one of Nilsson’s foremost and most acclaimed roles for the rest of her career. Birgit Nilsson made her last opera performance ever in Frankfurt in 1982 in the role of Elektra.
This opera is brought to you through the European Broadcasting Union, by way of Radio Sweden.
This program is a part of the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series, a series designed to complement the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to fill out the year with great Opera content. The series begins in June and lasts until the end of November.