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Martina ArroyoAnja Silja

 

Sorry- the picture of Mme Silja has yet to be added :)

 



Anja Silja Regina Langwagen (usually referred to as Anja Silja) is a German soprano born April 17, 1940

She has long enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best singing-actresses on the operatic stage with a vast repertoire.

With her grandfather as her first voice teacher, Anja Silja began her operatic career at a very early age, singing Rosina in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Braunschweig in 1956.

She followed this with Micaëla in Carmen and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos.
Her career really took off in 1959 when she sang the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Vienna State Oper under the baton of Karl Böhm and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival where she was dubbed "a second Callas."

Other early roles included Leonora in Il Trovatore, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, the four heroines of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte. 

In 1960 she debuted at the Bayreuth Festival as Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer and became involved with Wieland Wagner (Richard Wagners grandson) who was the Director of the famed Wagnerian opera house. Wieland left his family for Silja and they formed a remarkable personal and professional association with her performing in no less than 30 productions under Wieland’s direction. They included Elsa in Lohengrin opposite Astrid Varnay, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Eva in Die Meistersinger, Venus in Tannhäuser, Freia in Das Rheingold and the Waldvogel in Siegfried.

Outside Bayreuth Anja Silja appeared in Wieland Wagner's productions of Salome, Tristan und Isolde, Die Walküre and in Siegfried as Brünnhilde, Elektra, Fidelio, Otello, Lulu, Wozzeck.

Of her Salome, Harold Rosenthal wrote in Opera, in 1968:  Anja Silja's performance was a tour-de-force. Her voice is not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but it is clearly projected, and every phrase carries its overtones—psychological not musical—which suggest the child-like degenerate, over-sexed princess in all too clear a manner. Her nervous, almost thin body is never still; she rolls on her stomach and on her back; she crawls, she slithers, she leaps, she kneels…. There is no denying that this is one of the great performances of our time.

In the 1960s additional roles she added to her repertoire included Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Ariadne, Jenny Smith (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth), Violetta Valéry (La Traviata), Turandot (first Liù, then Turandot, the title role), Lucy (The Telephone), Cassandre (Les Troyens, opposite Jon Vickers) and Renata in The Fiery Angel.

On the death of Wieland Wagner, she abandoned singing the Wagner repertoire completely.
Throughout her career Anja Silja appeared throughout the world in many major opera houses including Frankfurt, Toulouse, Paris, Turin, Naples, Stuttgart, Zurich, Barcelona, Geneva, The Netherlands, Budapest, London (Royal Festival Hall, then Covent Garden), San Francisco (where she had her American debut in 1968, as Salome), and Chicago.

It was singing Lady Macbeth in 1967 that she met the conductor Christoph von Dohnányi, with whom she had a long relationship, including a marriage that produced three children. They divorced in the 1990s when he was resident conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Anja Silja continued her career with appearances at Trieste, the Edinburgh Festival, the Salzburg Festival, Barcelona, singing both Fidelio and Salome at Metropolitan Opera in 1972.    Other notable performances and associations included Erwartung, under Sir Georg Solti in Berlin, singing La Fancuilla del West in Cologne and the world premiere of Einem's Kabale und Liebe.

Other new roles she added to her repertoire in this period included Emilia Marty in The Makropoulos Case, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, Médée, Die Lustige Witwe, the famous production of Carmen directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle), La Juive, Katya Kabanova, Tosca, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, and Die Königen von Saba which was conducted by Julius Rudel.

In the 1980s, she added Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, La Cubana, Regan in Lear, Prinz Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (with Karita Mattila and Judith Blegen, the Kostelnička in Jenůfa at Glyndebourne, Grete in Der ferne Klang, and the Nurse in Die Frau ohne Schatten opposite Dame Gwyneth Jones as Barak's Wife.

In 1990 Anja Silja made her directorial debut directing Lohengrin in Brussells before returning to the stage to sing Agave in The Bassarids at Carnegie Hall and Ortrud in Lohengrin, Herodias in Salome, Anna I in Die sieben Todsünden, Klytämnestra in Elektra, Jocasta in Œdipus rex  with René Kollo, Mother Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Pierrot Lunaire, Judith in Bluebeard's Castle, Countess Geschwitz in Lulu, Madame de Croissy in Dialogues des Carmélites which was her Teatro alla Scala debut with Riccardo Muti conducting in 2004.   Three years later she sang in Jenůfa there, La Voix Humaine, Míla's Mother in Osud, the Comtesse in Pique-dame, and the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel.

In 2001 she recorded Jenůfa, from Covent Garden and it won a Grammy Award.

Mme Silja now lives in Paris in the home she purchased that once belonged to the conductor André Cluytens with whom she had had a brief affair years earlier until his death. As recently as January 2013, she sang the role of the Grandmother "Babulenka" in The Gambler in the production by Harry Kupfer in Frankfurt.

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