Kerstin Thorborg

Kerstin Thorborg (May 19, 1896 - April 12, 1970)

Born in Venjan, Sweden, the contralto Kerstin Thorborg was one of the best dramatic Wagnerian singers in the two decades between 1930 and 1950. She made her debut in 1924 singing the difficult role of Ortrud in Lohengrin. Eight years later, the famed conductor Bruno Walter engaged her for the Städtische Oper in Berlin and became her mentor. Although a contralto, Thorborg's upper register was so secure that she sang numerous mezzo-soprano roles, including Venus, Kundry, Fricka, Waltraute, and Magdalena. She was especially known for her searingly beautiful Brangäne, which fortunately was preserved on record. She also appears to wonderful advantage in the live recording of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, with Charles Kullmann, under Bruno Walter, at the Vienna Musikverein in 1936. In 1938, to escape the Nazis, she made her home in the United States, singing various roles at the Met. She returned to her native Sweden in 1950, after her retirement.

By all accounts, Thorborg was a magnificent actor with great stage presence. In addition, she was endowed with a beautifully steady and intense tone.


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