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Kirsten Flagstad

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Kirsten Målfrid Flagstad (12 July 1895 – 7 December 1962) was a Norwegian opera singer, and a highly regarded Wagnerian (dramatic) soprano of the 20th century. A restrained and expressive stage performer, she was admired internationally for her voice’s sheer tonal beauty, power, stamina, security and consistency of line and tone.
Flagstad was born in Hamar to a musical family; her father was conductor Michael Flagstad and her mother was pianist Marie Flagstad Johnsrud. She received her early musical training in Oslo and made her stage debut at the National Theatre in Oslo as Nuri in Eugen d’Albert’s Tiefland in 1913. Her first recordings were made between 1913 and 1915.

After further study in Stockholm with Dr. Gillis Bratt, she pursued a career in opera and operetta in Norway. In 1919, she married her first husband Sigurd Hall. Later that year she signed up with the newly created Opera Comique in Oslo, under the direction of Alexander Varnay and Benno Singer. Varnay was the father of the famous soprano Astrid Varnay. Her ability to learn roles quickly was noted, often only taking a few days to do so. She sang Desdemona opposite Leo Slezak, Minnie, Amelia and other lesser roles at the Opera Comique. She sang at the city theater of Göteborg, Sweden, between 1928 and 1932. It was there that Flagstad made her debut singing Agathe in Der Freischütz by Weber. In 1930, a revival of Carl Nielsen’s Saul and David featured Flagstad singing the role of Michal.

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