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Elisabeth Soderstrom

Matt Schudel

The great Swedish soprano Elisabeth Soderstrom has died at the age of 82. She was regarded as perhaps the finest singing actress on the operatic stage -- in other words, she had not just a beautiful voice, but a deeply expressive, nuanced acting talent as well.

Soderstrom made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1959 and was in huge demand for several years, then virtually disappeared from the American stage. She had returned to Sweden to raise her three sons and to continue her career at home.

She later made a triumphant return to this country and continued to appear in operas and tour in recitals, often with pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, until well into her 60s. (Here she is in a badly out-of-synch tape of Beethoven's "Fidelio.")

She had a magnetic stage presence and rare ability to describe the intricacies of music in general, and singing in particular, as you can see in this excellent British video:

By Matt Schudel  |  November 22, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Matt Schudel  
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