(Born 10 July 1913 - 1st of September 1996)
Ljuba Welitsch was a much celebrated Bulgarian, later Austrian, operatic soprano.
She made her debut singing Sofia in 1936 and engagements in Hamburg, Munich and finally at the Vienna State Opera soon followed.
Famous for her red hair and exuberant personality, she was best known for performing Salome - a role that she performed under the composer himself, Richard Strauss in 1944 on his 80th birthday.
She also sang the role in her London debut in the same year and debuted at the Metropolitan Opera, New York in 1949.
She also sang the title roles of Tosca and Aida, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Minnie in La Fanciulla del West and Musetta in La Bohème.
Her voice was almost unique- neither creamy nor shrill it had a silvery sound to it that cut through even the largest orchestras playing at full volume.
She was also an incredible musician known for maintaining a pace to the music that challenged the conductor to press ahead and follow her.
A great artist, she was as famous for her edgy pranks as she was for her voice. At one performance of La Boheme where she played Musetta she reportedly played the role "commando" thereby giving the ladies in the front three rows, palpitations.
In another performance of Tosca at the Metropolitan in New York she repeatedly kicked the supposedly dead body of the Scarpia, Lawrence Tibbett. Apparently she disliked him intensly.
Regrettably her international career did not last long.
First interrupted by the war, she had an early vocal crisis in the late forties leading her to abandon the opera stage and take acting roles on Austrian television instead.
One notable performance of Salome at the Royal Opera in the fifties did not go well. The cast hated the sets and costumes designed by Salvatore Dali so much, following the performance they took great delight in smashing them to pieces.
Ljuba Weilitsch's last appearance on an opera stage was in 1982 at a gala to honour Dame Eva Turner's ninetieth birthday.
She died on the 1st of September 1996 and is buried in Vienna leaving no children from two marriages but a number of very good opera recordings still available on CD.
Ljuba Welitsch is one of the featured stars on our "Legends" product range.