Cher Public

Ecco un artista!

Just discovered: a Swedish documentary about Birgit Nilsson, featuring footage of the diva at the Met getting ready to sing Tosca opposite Gianni Raimondi (replacing Franco Corelli who was apparently ill), giving a party for fans in her modest sublet, giggling, preparing for a recital tour, rehearsing Tristan und Isolde and generally doing interesting things.  (Narration is in Swedish, but in the New York sequences, Nilsson and others mostly speak English.)  

  • WindyCityOperaman

    I just love adorable, pre-performance Raimondi begging her “Don’t kill me!” I assume this is the performance where she let out a huge scream as she jumped off the parapet. BTW I wonder if one of the partiers is the crazy obsessed fan that she mentioned in her autobio.

  • littoraldrift

    Fascinating. Her rehearsing Die Junge Nonne was an esp. delightful surprise.

  • liza

    Adorable is a good word WCO. So adorable that it cost my Tues morning, I just couldn’t resist it. One of my favorite lines came from BN’s pen pal and New Haven housewife whom Birgit entertains at her simple post Tosca smorgasbord. When Birgit later departs New Haven, after visiting her fan’s musical theater studio that had been inspired by BN’s Met performances, her pen pal says she just had an interest in music but after she heard BN sing “Well, you see she was professional and I had to be a professional too.” Beautiful.

  • Camille

    This was the most delightful and instructional little film on what it is to be both a great artist and a real lady.

    It was wonderful to see on so many counts and to have a chance to see her working with the wonderful John Wustmann, to see her cooking(!), to see how gracious she was with her fans, to see her acclamation and installation as Kammersängerin in Wien, to hear her speaking in her native tongue, and most of all for me, a chance to hear her justly-famed whistle!
    Ecco un artista, in verità! Thank you so much.

  • danpatter

    Well, thanks so much! This absolutely MADE my day. My friend John and I attended that Nilsson recital in Lexington, KY, and went backstage afterward, and there we are, age 21, waiting to get autographs. The segment starts with John talking at great length with Nilsson, and ends just as I begin talking with her. I had always wondered what happened to that footage. Nice to see myself with hair and considerably fewer pounds.

  • CwbyLA

    What a delightful documentary. Thank you for sharing La Cieca.

  • Milady DeWinter

    I agree -- I completely lost myself in it. What a lady, what a singer. I loved that tense little moment (in Chicago, I think) where she couldn’t get a spotlight -- I think they worked it out when she demurred “I don’t know if I can sing….”
    I noticed the credits list Erich Nilsson -- could that be her brother who was trailing her around with camera, or just coincidence?
    Thank you for this!

    • danpatter

      I don’t remember that Nilsson had any siblings. Nilsson is a fairly common name in Sweden so Erich Nilsson is probably not kin to her. It sure was a great documentary, though!

      • WindyCityOperaman

        You are correct. According to her autobiography she had no siblings.