April 14, 2014

Christa Ludwig honoured at the Opera News Awards in New York

Co-hosted by Joyce DiDonato, the ceremony saw one great mezzo pay tribute to another.

At one of the glitziest events of the season, held on Sunday at New York’s famed Plaza Hotel, a who’s-who of international opera stars gathered for the ninth annual Opera News Awards.

Presented by Joyce DiDonato, who herself took home Opera News’ prize for distinguished achievement in 2009, the ceremony’s illustrious presenters included Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine.

Hailed “the perfect 21st-century diva” by the New York Times, DiDonato was able to express her profound admiration for a twentieth-century legend, Christa Ludwig, who was among the evening’s honourees in recognition of her 50-year contribution to opera and lieder.

The 86-year-old German mezzo-soprano accepted the accolade in person, clad in an elegant lavender two-piece as inspiring matriarch to a new generation of singers in attendance. Ludwig recorded for EMI from the late 1950s and was appointed Kammersängerin at the Vienna State Opera in 1962, performing with the company for more than thirty years. In 1960, she performed as Adalgisa alongside Maria Callas’ Norma. She had the great gift of moving seamlessly between opera and song recital; among her greatest recordings are Schubert lieder partnered with pianists Geoffrey Parsons and Gerald Moore.

Ludwig has always been known in the opera world as a hard-working, gracious and humble singer, but she can be playful too: in a 2000 interview, at the age of 72, she told Opera News, “You don't know how sexy I can be if I want to.”