Christa Ludwig, a renowned interpreter of Wagner, Mozart and Strauss who starred on the world’s great stages for four decades, died at her home in Klosterneuburg, Austria. She was 93. Her death was announced Sunday (April 25) by the Vienna State Opera, which said she died Saturday. A mezzo-soprano who also succeeded in soprano roles, Ludwig made her Vienna State Opera debut as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro on April 14, 1955, when the company was temporarily in the Redoutensaele.
She was heard in the rebuilt opera house for the first time that Dec. 26 as Octavian in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. She sang 769 performances of 42 roles in Vienna. “The words of the Marschallin often quoted by Christa Ludwig -- `With a light heart and light hands, hold and take, hold and let’ — which she repeatedly referred to as a personal motto, were actual and true expressions of her way of life,” Vienna State opera director Bogdan Roscic said in a statement. “She took art as seriously as one can take it seriously, subordinated her life to it, but at her own request she said goodbye to the stage `with a light hand.′ Later she was able to talk about her decades almost without melancholy, always with a pinch of irony, self-knowledge, but also without false modesty.”
Ludwig made her debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera on Dec. 10, 1959, as Cherubino, with Erich Leinsdorf conducting a cast that included Giorgio Tozzi as Figaro, Elisabeth Söderström as Susanna, Lucine Amara as the Countess, Regina Resnik as Marcellina and Teresa Stratas as Barbarina. “Her singing was precise and even, each tone clear and true, and her Italian rippled along like a second music,” critic Louis Biancolli wrote in The New York World-Telegram and Sun. “The ovation was fully deserved.”